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Last Updated: Friday, 9 February 2007, 11:36 GMT
Colombia hostage in jungle rescue
Leonardo Nur hugs his sister, Olga
Leonardo Nur's family had not had any news of him since 2003
A Colombian soldier who had been missing for three years and presumed dead has been rescued by army troops.

Capt Leonardo Nur, 35, was being held hostage by left-wing guerrillas in the jungle. He was found chained to a tree.

The army said it had raided the rebel camp after learning there was a hostage there. They did not know who it was.

Last year, the president ordered the military to rescue hostages being held by the armed groups involved in the country's long-running civil conflict.

Head buried

"It's like being reborn," Capt Nur told a news conference after his rescue on Thursday.

He said he had carved his name and rank onto his arm so that his body could be identified if he was killed.

Fearing for his life, he said that when he heard gunfire early on Thursday, he had dug a hole with his hands, and buried his head in it while shackled to a tree.

It was in this position that he was found by soldiers some 250km (155 miles) west of the capital, Bogota.

He was being held by the Guevarista Revolutionary Army, a dissident faction of the National Liberation Army (ELN), the country's second-largest rebel group.

Capt Nur said he remembered very little about his capture - which happened as he was in his car in May 2003 - because he had been drugged.

There was never any information about his possible kidnapping, so legally he was considered disappeared and presumed dead.

Rebel groups frequently turn to kidnapping to claim ransom or political leverage.

The four-decade long conflict between left-wing rebels, right-wing paramilitaries and state forces has left tens of thousands of civilians dead.

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