Colombia's ELN rebels free Canadian geologist

Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:38pm EDT
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BOGOTA Aug 27 (Reuters) - Colombia's ELN rebels on Tuesday freed a Canadian geologist they had held captive for seven months, meeting one of the demands by President Juan Manuel Santos to enable the start of peace talks.

Jernoc Wobert was seized in northern Bolivar province along with two Peruvian and three Colombian miners contracted by gold mining company, Braeval Mining. His colleagues were later freed by the leftist ELN, or National Liberation Army, the smaller of two rebel groups fighting the government for almost five decades.

Wobert has been examined by a doctor, said Jordi Raich, spokesman of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which helped coordinate his release.

ELN leaders have expressed interest in starting peace negotiations similar to those under way with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Santos has made any peace talks with the ELN conditional on freeing Wobert and all other captives it holds in the jungle. It is not known how many captives the group holds.