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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 February 2008, 03:34 GMT
Guatemala farmers release police
Some 1,500 farmers in Guatemala have released 29 police officers a day after they were taken hostage in Livingston on the Caribbean coast.

The farmers are seeking for the release of a farm leader, Ramiro Choc, arrested earlier this month on charges of robbery and illegally occupying land.

The farmers are said to have occupied land in the area for the past decade.

The government is now reportedly willing to help the farmers legalise their position on the land they use.

Local officials and representatives of Guatemala's Human Rights Prosecutor's office negotiated between police and farmers to ensure the hostages were freed, after 32 hours in captivity.

Five representatives of the farmers' union will now fly to the capital, Guatemala City, for talks with the government.

Jungle village

The farmers disarmed the officers on Thursday at the police station in the Caribbean coastal town of Livingston and took them by boat to the remote jungle village of Maya Creek, police said.

Police spokesman Faustino Sanchez had told the Associated Press news agency: "They told us they are going to kill them one by one."

Among those taken hostage were the police station head, a police district head and four other commanders, local media reported.

Mr Choc had urged his supporters to release the police officers in a telephone call from jail, Guatemala's interior department told AP.

The detained farm leader has also been accused of inciting residents to take over land, including nature reserves.

Country profile: Guatemala
18 Jan 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Guatemala
06 Nov 07 |  Country profiles

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