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Red Cross Mission Waits in Colombia for Expected Hostage Release

A Red Cross humanitarian mission has arrived in Cali, Colombia in preparation for the expected release of a politician who has been held by leftist FARC rebels for more than six years.

The mission arrived in two Brazilian helicopters, which have been used this week to ferry newly freed hostages out of the Colombian jungle. The mission Thursday is expected to retrieve Sigifredo Lopez, who is the last of six hostages the FARC has promised to release.

The guerrillas abducted Lopez in April 2002, along with 11 other regional deputies from the Valle del Cauca departmental assembly. The others were killed in June 2007 during an exchange of gunfire between FARC rebels and an unknown group. Colombian officials say the FARC killed the deputies when another rebel group approached without warning.

Lopez's expected release would come two days after the guerrilla group freed former governor Alan Jara, who was snatched from a United Nations vehicle in 2001. Four other hostages were freed on Sunday.

FARC guerrillas are believed to be holding hundreds of people in jungle hideouts for ransom or political leverage. The rebel group has been at war with the Colombian government since the 1960s.

Last year, Colombian soldiers posing as members of a humanitarian group freed 15 hostages, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three American citizens.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.