Colombian authorities say a police officer kidnapped by leftist rebels has escaped after more than eight years in captivity.

Authorities said Wednesday that the officer fled his captors near the southeastern town of Mitu. They said he was taken hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, during an attack on the town in November 1998.

The rebels are holding some 60 political prisoners, including former presidential candidate and French-Colombian citizen, Ingrid Betancourt. They 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 and AP.