Colombian troops freed Bishop Jorge Enrique Jimenez and Fr Desiderio Orjuela in a dramatic rescue operation on Friday. The hostages were freed unharmed after a gun battle with rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). in which one man was killed and two captured. Looking tired and unshaven, but overjoyed, Bishop Jorge, who heads the Latin American Bishops Conference and Fr Desiderio were flown in a military helicopter to an army base in Bogota, where they were mobbed by family members, camouflage-clad soldiers and journalists. "This is an unforgettable moment," Jimenez said. Asked if he had feared for his life, he said: "I always have faith in God." The two were kidnapped on on Monday. All week the Pope and other church leaders appealed for their safe release. Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls expressed "enormous joy" at the release, and said he hoped Colombia's violence would soon come to an end. The rebel group still holds dozens of kidnapped politicians, including former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and a state governor, as well as soldiers, police and ordinary civilians. More than 3,000 people were taken hostage in Colombia last year alone.
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