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Mixed signals on Colombian hostage release

By the CNN Wire Staff
Police officer Carlos Ocampo (center) was the only hostage freed by the FARC rebel group on Sunday.
Police officer Carlos Ocampo (center) was the only hostage freed by the FARC rebel group on Sunday.
  • Red Cross says it is ready to resume a liberation operation,
  • But the government says it has not signed off on such a move
  • Two hostages who were to be released Sunday were not released
  • The government was upset that it was given wrong coordinates
  • Colombia
  • FARC

(CNN) -- An operation to retrieve two Colombian hostages held by the FARC rebel group will resume Tuesday, the Red Cross said, but the government denied that it had authorized such a move.

The conflicting reports come two days after an initial attempt to retrieve the hostages was foiled by inaccurate coordinates.

Christophe Beney, the Red Cross representative for the operation, said that the release of police Maj. Guillermo Solorzano and Army Cpl. Salin Sanmiguel by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC will happen in the department of Cauca on Tuesday morning.

But shortly after these comments were reported, the Colombian government said in a statement that "it is not true that we have authorized the resumption of any operation for the liberation of the hostages."

The government was awaiting a debrief from the Red Cross before moving forward, the statement said.

Solorzano, Sanmiguel, and police officer Carlos Ocampo were to be released by the FARC on Sunday, but only Ocampo was freed. Colombian authorities were upset at what they said were wrong coordinates given by the Marxist guerrilla group.

"Even though the government did its part, the FARC have committed an act that shocks us," said Eduardo Pizarro, the government's representative for the liberation operation. "Today, the FARC gave us coordinates in the department of Tolima. The helicopters went to those areas, and it turns out that the hostages aren't in the department of Tolima, but in the department of Cauca."

He added that "this behavior surprises, upsets and disturbs us very much."

In December, the FARC leftist guerrilla group pledged to release five hostages as a humanitarian gesture. Three of them were released last week, and two others had originally been scheduled to be released Sunday.

However, former Sen. Piedad Cordoba, who helped to coordinate the humanitarian mission, later said that the rebel group would release three hostages Sunday.

Some have suggested the hostage releases could fuel renewed negotiations between Colombia's government and the rebels.

One of the freed hostages called for dialogue between the government and insurgents.

"Humanitarian exchange is the first step toward a friendly understanding, which permits the return of our brothers deprived of their liberty," politician Armando Acuna said after his release last week.

But Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has sharply criticized the FARC, accusing the group of having a "double standard" and creating an "absurd media show" in order to draw sympathy to their cause.

On Thursday, he said he was tempted to call off the rescue mission after learning that two workers from the Carton de Colombia company had been kidnapped in southwestern Colombia on Wednesday night.

Journalist Fernando Ramos contributed to this report.