They had all been held in jungle prisons for at least 12 years before their release last night.
The release of the six police and four soldiers highlighted efforts to seek peace talks by Latin America’s oldest and most potent guerrilla band, which has been weakened in recent years by Colombia’s military.
Flown from a jungle rendezvous to this city on Colombia’s eastern plains aboard a Brazilian air force helicopter emblazoned with the Red Cross logo, the freed captives waved jubilantly.
They were escorted from the Super Cougar helicopter by nurses to awaiting relatives, smiling to the gathered throng. A few walked with difficulty and others jumped for joy on the tarmac.
One had brought along his pet capybara, a rodent native to South America’s jungles. Some wore the Colombian flag over their shoulders. All looked newly shaven.
Their loved ones were overjoyed.
“I shouted! I jumped up and down!” said Olivia Solarte when she heard her 41-year-old son, police officer Trujillo had been freed. He’d been held since July 1999.
They were united with their loved ones in a private area before the group was flown to Bogota were other relatives were waiting.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, had announced plans to release the captives back in February in tandem with a halt in ransom kidnappings as a revenue source.