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Videos show hostages held by Colombian rebels

  • Story Highlights
  • Five videos seized from suspected members of rebel group FARC
  • Tapes are only recent evidence that the hostages may still be alive
  • Hostages include Colombian Sen. Ingrid Betancourt, three Americans
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(CNN) -- The Colombian government has seized five videotapes from suspected members of a rebel group that show a number of hostages, including Colombian Sen. Ingrid Betancourt and three American contractors, a government statement said Thursday.

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Colombian Sen. Ingrid Betancourt appears in an image from one of the seized videos.

The tapes are the only recent evidence that the hostages kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia (FARC) may still be alive.

Four of the five videos show recording dates in late October, while the fifth is branded January 1, 2007.

In addition to Betancourt and the contractors, several kidnapped members of Colombia's security forces appear in the tapes. Video Watch the captives on videotape »

Earlier this month, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, acting on behalf of the Colombian government, held talks with Colombian Sen. Piedad Cordoba and Luciano Marin Arango, a member of the high command of FARC, in a bid to broker the exchange of as many as 50 kidnapped civilians.

Those civilians include Betancourt, a Colombian-French national who was kidnapped in 2002 while running for president, and the three American contractors who were captured when their plane went down in 2003 during a drug-eradication flight.

The guerrillas have demanded the release of 500 imprisoned FARC rebels in return for their hostages.

Prior prisoner-release negotiations between Colombia and FARC have stalled over a rebel demand for creation of a demilitarized zone for the exchange and for released rebel prisoners to return to the guerrilla group.

In the early November meeting, Marin Arango reiterated the guerrillas' demands for a demilitarized zone.

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Established in 1964 as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party, FARC is Colombia's oldest, largest, most capable and best-equipped Marxist rebel group, according to the U.S. Department of State.

The United States, the European Union and Colombia classify FARC as a terrorist group. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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