French mount effort in Colombia to save FARC hostage

BOGOTA — A French-led mission to save the life — and perhaps secure the release — of Colombia's best known hostage held in jungle camps for more than six years was set to begin Thursday amid persistent rumors that she is near death.

A French plane landed in Colombia before dawn Thursday as part of a medical mission to aid Ingrid Betancourt, a French-Colombian citizen who was campaigning for president when she was kidnapped by leftist rebels in 2002.

President Alvaro Uribe said he would suspend military operations against the guerrillas to facilitate the mission, but it was unclear whether the rebels had agreed to allow a French medical team to see and treat Betancourt for hepatitis B and leishmaniasis.

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