French aid plane arrives in Colombia to help hostage - Emirates24|7

French aid plane arrives in Colombia to help hostage


A French aid team arrived in Colombia Thursday to help a sick French-Colombian hostage but there was no guarantee her rebel captors would grant access to her, a source close to the presidency said here.

"We have had no reply from the FARC," the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that have held the gravely ill former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt for six years, the source said.

The source did not say where exactly the Falcon 50 jet carrying the team had landed.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's government has agreed to suspend military operations against the FARC to allow the deployment of the mission, but only if the French team informs it exactly where it is headed.

Betancourt, who has become a cause celebre in France, is believed to be suffering from hepatitis B and leishmania, a skin disease caused by insect bites. Videos seized from the rebels in November showed her looking gaunt and frail.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday pleaded with FARC leader Manuel Marulanda to release Betancourt, saying he feared that she would soon die.

Betancourt is among 39 hostages, including three US defence contractors, FARC wants exchanged for 500 rebels held in prison.

The Marxist guerrilla movement, which has been fighting the Colombian government for more than 40 years, is believed to be holding more than 700 people hostage in the jungles of the Latin American state. (AFP)