Colombian woman Ingrid Betancourt freed

Freed Colombian hostage, Ingrid Betancourt, flies home

Ingrid Betancourt, the French-Colombian politician who was rescued after six years in captivity, is on her way back home to France.

The 46-year-old will land later today where she will be welcomed by French president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

‘I am eager to be in France, I am eager to be home,’ she said.

The former Colombian presidential candidate was freed in an intrepid undercover rescue operation after being held hostage by guerrillas. Ms Betancourt and three US hostages were saved when Colombian soldiers, posing as aid workers, tricked the captors into putting the hostages on a helicopter. The rescue effort was conducted without a single shot being fired.

Ms Betancourt, a former presidential candidate, was the highest-profile captive held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and had been held in the Colombian jungle for six years.

In a statement, she thanked the Colombian military and through tears commented: ‘I believe that this is a sign of peace for Colombia, that we can find peace.’

The former hostage described her action film rescue saying the captives were amazed when their handcuffs were removed as the helicopter took off and one army officer said: ‘You are free’.

Defence Minister, Juan Manuel Santos, said: ‘It was an intelligence operation comparable with the greatest epics of human history, but without a drop of blood being spilled, without one weapon being fired.’

Ms Betancourt also thanked the French media for their pressure to free her and was met by her children at Bogota airport before taking a plane to France.

‘Nirvana, paradise – that must be very similar to what I feel at this moment,’ she said. ‘It was because of them [her children] that I kept up my will to get out of that jungle. The last time I saw my son, Lorenzo was a little kid and I could carry him around.’

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