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Sgt. Pablo Emilio Moncayo, held by Colombian FARC rebels as a hostage for more than 12 years, was reunited with family members Tuesday after being released and handed over to the Red Cross.

Bad weather slowed the planned handover, but Moncayo eventually was transported to the city of Florencia, where his family, Red Cross personnel and the media greetd him.

Moncayo, who has been held prisoner by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia since December 21, 1997, was a 19-year-old corporal in the Colombian army when Marxist guerrillas attacked his unit, killing 22 soldiers and capturing 19.

Moncayo was held longer than any other hostage by the rebels and was promoted to the rank of sergeant while in captivity, nearly a year ago.

The guerrillas, known by their Spanish acronym of FARC, released another hostage Sunday.

Josue Daniel Calvo, who had been held for 11 months, was reunited with his family Sunday on a tarmac in Villavicencio, where the helicopter that retrieved him touched down.

The humanitarian mission to release the captives has been led by Colombian Sen. Piedad Cordoba, who has obtained freedom for other hostages. The Red Cross also has been involved. Brazil, which is trusted by both sides, has picked up and ferried the hostages aboard its helicopters.

The FARC released six hostages last year but has said Moncayo would be the last set free unilaterally. From now on, the FARC said, the rebels will demand that guerrillas held by the Colombian government be swapped for the remaining police and soldiers under rebel captivity, many for more than a decade.

Moncayo was among the best-known hostages still in FARC captivity, due mostly to the efforts of his father, who walked across Colombia to garner attention and press for his son’s release.

Gustavo Guillermo Moncayo Rincon set out June 17, 2007, Father’s Day in Colombia, on a 700-mile (1,100-km) trek from his hometown of Sandona to the capital, Bogota. The teacher became known as “el caminante por la paz” (“the walker for peace”).

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Article courtesy cnn.com

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