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Colombian Rebels Release UN Hostage

FILE - A United Nations observer shakes hands with a rebel of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) before a meeting in La Carmelita, Colombia, March 1, 2017. A FARC splinter group on Wednesday released a U.N. contractor it had taken hostage in May.

Colombian officials say a United Nations contractor was released by dissident FARC rebels Wednesday after he was taken captive two months ago.

"We are very grateful for the decision to release him unharmed. He is in good health," the director of the U.N. Information Center in Bogota, Helene Papper said.

"We are currently making all the logistical arrangements to transfer him to Bogota," Papper said of the former hostage, identified by the French news agency as Harley Lopez, a Colombian national.

Former members of the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, seized their hostage while he was working on a project to replace coca with legal crops such as coffee and fruit.

Nearly 300 dissidents, who rejected a peace deal between the rebel group and Colombian government last year, want to take over coca cultivation and cocaine trafficking that were abandoned when the FARC agreed to lay down its weapons.

The May kidnapping coincided with a U.N. Security Council meeting in the Andean country to discuss the peace accord which ended more than five decades of conflict.