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FARC releases US veteran held in Colombia

A Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla patrols in the mountainous region of the Cauca department, Colombia, on February 15, 2013
A Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla patrols in the mountainous region of the Cauca department, Colombia, on February 15, 2013

Colombia's leftist FARC rebels released a former US Marine after holding him for several weeks, in a move promptly hailed by Washington.

"We welcome the release today of Kevin Scott Sutay from captivity at the hands of the FARC," Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

"The United States is profoundly grateful to the government of Colombia and commends its tireless efforts to secure his release."

Kerry's statement came as a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross in Colombia announced that the American had been freed.

Sutay was captured in June in the central-eastern Colombian region of Guaviare during a visit to the area as a tourist.

Last month, at the request of the FARC, US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson traveled to Colombia for talks to secure Sutay's freedom.

"We also appreciate the contributions of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the governments of Norway and Cuba in securing Mr Sutay’s freedom," Kerry said.

"And we thank the Reverend Jesse Jackson for his efforts in consistently advocating for Mr Sutay’s release."

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which now have 7,000-8,000 troops, have waged an insurgency against the state since the Marxist-inspired force's founding in 1964.

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