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Hostages Urge Colombia's Uribe to Establish Demilitarized Zone


Twelve Colombian lawmakers held hostage since 2002 by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have urged President Alvaro Uribe to establish a demilitarized zone that the leftist rebels are demanding.

The FARC released a tape of the lawmakers Friday as proof they are all still alive. Families of the hostages gathered to watch the video in the Valle del Cauca province assembly building where the lawmakers were kidnapped.

But President Uribe said he will not demilitarize two regions as demanded. The rebels have made that a condition for the release of some 60 political prisoners, including former presidential candidate and French-Colombian citizen, Ingrid Betancourt.

In a message to Mr. Uribe, former assembly speaker Juan Carlos Narvaez warned against what he called the repeated "threat of rescue." He said it torments the families of the hostages and prolongs their ordeal.

He was referring to the case of several hostages who were killed during an unsuccessful rescue attempt.

The rebels have been fighting to overthrow the Colombian government for more than four decades.

Earlier this year, President Alvaro Uribe said his government was ready for direct contact with the rebel group.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.