Bitter end: Colombian rebel group’s captives killed after more than 12 years

Alastair Grant/APColombia's President Juan Manuel Santos.

WHAT: Colombia’s main rebel group executed four of its longest-held captives during combat Saturday between guerrillas and soldiers searching for the men, the government said. A fifth captive fled into the jungle and survived.

HOW: A senior Defense Ministry official told The Associated Press that government troops were not attempting to rescue the captives but rather trying to locate them based on intelligence indicating the rebels were holding them in the area. The official agreed to discuss the operation only if granted anonymity.

WHY IT’S OUTRAGEOUS: President Juan Manuel Santos called the killing of a soldier and three police officers “a crime against humanity” and dismissed any suggestions that Colombia’s armed forces might be responsible. “They were held hostage for between 12 and 13 years and wound up cruelly murdered,” Santos said.

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