UPDATE 1-Colombia's ELN rebels free Canadian geologist

Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:36pm EDT
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* Release may help ELN in bid for peace talks

* Braeval no longer mining near site of kidnapping

* Colombia receiving record investment in mining

By Helen Murphy

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

Jernoc Wobert was seized on Jan. 18 in northern Bolivar province along with two Peruvian and three Colombian miners contracted by the Toronto-based Braeval Mining gold mining company. 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 was released in a rural area to a mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross and has been examined by a doctor, said ICRC spokesman Jordi Raich in a statement.

Santos has conditioned any peace talks with the ELN on freeing Wobert and all other captives it holds in the nation's jungles. ELN leaders have expressed interest in starting peace negotiations similar to those currently under way with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

It is not known how many hostages the group holds.   Continued...