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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 November, 2003, 13:23 GMT
Colombia hostages shown on video
Hostage shown on ELN video
The hostages appear to be healthy
Leftist Colombian guerrillas holding seven foreign hostages have released a video showing the captives.

Three of them - a Briton, a German and a Spaniard - are allowed to deliver messages in the video. The other four - all Israelis - are seen playing cards.

The hostage-takers are demanding an investigation into what they call the oppression of indigenous people by right-wing paramilitaries in the area.

A guerrilla says the rebels will kill the hostages if a rescue is attempted.

Speaking on the video, masked guerrilla commander Abel Martinez warns that "the unit in the area has orders not to permit a rescue, in the sense that they will execute the detainees".

Plea

In the video - which is dated 20 October - the Spanish hostage urges the Colombian Government to meet the rebels' demands.

Many people go hungry, as I recently experienced myself. It is cold, they have no medicine
Hostage Reinhilt Weigel
"I call on the Colombian Government to give way a bit on the humanitarian issue, to allow the humanitarian commission to go in and show what's happening, the suffering in the Sierra Nevada," Asier Huegun says.

German captive Reinhilt Weigel said local people lived in difficult circumstances.

"Many people go hungry, as I recently experienced myself. It is cold, they have no medicine and... the ELN is fighting to achieve some change," she says on the video.

Mark Henderson, a British television producer, said it was important that governments waste no time in ending the hostages' ordeal.

"I'd like to say to the governments of both England and Colombia that it may be, you know, just another day for you lot, but it's 24 hours in my life," he says.

The Colombian Government has been negotiating with the rebels, aided by local church figures.

The archbishop of Medellin, Luis Alberto Giraldo, said last week that the rebels were refusing to release all the hostages together.

Two-month captivity

The seven backpackers were seized by the National Liberation Army, or ELN, near ruins in the Sierra Nevada mountains on 12 September.

HOSTAGES HELD
Israelis Beni Daniel, Ortaz Ohayon, Ido Joseph Guy, and Erez Altawil
Spaniard Asier Huegun
Briton Mark Henderson
German Reinhilt Weigel

An eighth hostage seized at the same time, Briton Matthew Scott, escaped by jumping down a ravine.

The four Israelis have also apparently tried to escape, the ELN told the Reuters news agency, to whom they handed the video.

The four Israelis are being held together, while the other three hostages are each being held individually.




SEE ALSO:
Colombia hostage talks deadlocked
31 Oct 03  |  Americas
Colombia rebels may free Spaniard
20 Oct 03  |  Americas
Priests' mission fails in Colombia
16 Oct 03  |  Americas
Father talks of kidnapped son
16 Sep 03  |  North Yorkshire
Country profile: Colombia
12 Jul 03  |  Country profiles


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