FARC to free Colombian general, others next week: President

A Colombian police officer frisks a motorcyclist in Quibdo, Department of Choco, Colombia, on Nov 21, 2014. FARC guerillas who captured a Colombian general and four other people will release them next week, president Juan Manuel Santos said on Saturd
A Colombian police officer frisks a motorcyclist in Quibdo, Department of Choco, Colombia, on Nov 21, 2014. FARC guerillas who captured a Colombian general and four other people will release them next week, president Juan Manuel Santos said on Saturday, paving the way for a return to peace talks. -- PHOTO: AFP 

BOGOTA (AFP) - FARC guerillas who captured a Colombian general and four other people will release them next week, president Juan Manuel Santos said Saturday, paving the way for a return to peace talks.

"I am giving instructions to facilitate their liberation next week," Santos said in a Twitter message, noting that the guerillas had already provided coordinates of where the captives would be delivered.

The Nov 16 kidnapping of General Ruben Alzate in the remote, jungle-covered Choco region threw peace talks between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government into disarray, with Santos suspending the two-year negotiations.

The two sides have been negotiating in Cuba for an end to the 50-year conflict that has claimed more than 220,000 lives and caused more than five million to flee their homes.

Alzate was kidnapped along with a corporal and an adviser. The FARC is also holding two soldiers who were kidnapped Nov 9 near the Venezuela border in Arauca province.

The Red Cross, which the government has asked to assist in the handover, said Thursday it had a "green light" to begin the transfer, but the operation appeared to stall on Friday.

Founded in 1964, the FARC is the largest of the guerrilla groups active in Colombia, with about 8,000 fighters.