|Colombia||REBELS FREE FOUR HOSTAGES FROM CHURCH RAID|
Colombia's second-largest guerrilla force has released four of some 40 hostages they have been holding since last May, when they burst into a Roman Catholic Church in Cali.
The release brings to seven the number of hostages rebels of the National Liberation Army (ELN) have released this week, including three set free last Tuesday.
The four hostages were met in Cali on Sunday by family members and reporters.
The leftist ELN has freed several hostages in the past three months, but is still holding 16 of the 41 passengers taken in an April 12 plane hijacking, and 39 of the some 150 people seized in a daring raid on a Cali church on 30 May.
Rebel leaders said the kidnappings and hijacking were aimed at pressuring the Government of Colombian President Andres Pastrana into initiating peace negotiations with them.
Mr Pastrana is already involved in negotiations with the country's largest guerrilla army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), even as fighting continues.
He says he will start peace talks with the ELN as soon as it releases all its hostages. Almost 50 per cent of the world's kidnappings take place in Colombia.
Colombian authorities estimate more than 1,500 people, including some 150 foreigners, are being held by rebel and criminal groups.
ABC 1:33pm 6/9/99