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4th hostage found in Colombia after raid

General Luis Mendieta with his daughter, Jenni (left), and wife, Maria, at a Bogotá military base yesterday. General Luis Mendieta with his daughter, Jenni (left), and wife, Maria, at a Bogotá military base yesterday. (Ariana Cubillos/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / June 15, 2010

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BOGOTÁ — Colombian authorities say they found a rebel-held police officer in the jungle yesterday, a day after he fled for his life during a confrontation between his captors and government troops conducting a surprise hostage rescue.

Lieutenant Colonel William Donato, 41, had become lost but was found in good health after taking refuge among trees more than 260 feet tall, General Freddy Padilla said.

Donato was kidnapped in 1998, as were three other men who were rescued Sunday, two high-ranking police officers and an army sergeant.

Donato and the three other men, who were rescued Sunday during a confrontation between the military and the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, were expected to arrive in the Colombian capital of Bogotá later yesterday.

Two of those rescued, including General Luis Mendieta, were captured by FARC guerrillas during a November 1998 siege of the eastern provincial capital of Mitu. Mendieta was the highest-ranking member of the Colombian police and troops under FARC control. Sunday was his 53d birthday.

Another two, including Donato, were captured in August 1998 during a rebel attack on an antidrug outpost in the southern jungle town of Miraflores.

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