A Swedish man held for nearly two years by leftist Colombian rebels
before being freed this week is paralyzed on one side of his body as a result of a
stroke he suffered while in captivity, a diplomat said on Wednesday.
Roland Larsson, 69, and his Colombian girlfriend were abducted from
their home in northern Colombia by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia, or FARC, which funds itself with cocaine trafficking and
“He suffered a stroke during his captivity. This
resulted in him being partly paralyzed, and that continues,” Tommy
Stromberg, consul at the Swedish embassy in Bogota, told Reuters after
“He looked, under the circumstances, fairly
well. But the circumstances are rather extreme,” said Stromberg, who
added that the former captive was under medical care and would return
to Sweden to see his family as soon as he was able to travel.
Larsson, who was living in retirement at the time of his abduction, was the last foreigner held by FARC.
The rebels originally asked for a $5 million ransom for Larsson,
according to Colombian officials, who did not say whether any money was
paid to free the Swede. They also did not give details on what
negotiations led to his release.
Little is known about the
Colombian woman who was abducted with Larsson. “A few days after the
kidnapping she managed to escape, or that’s what it looks like,”
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, backed by
billions of dollars in U.S. military aid, has ordered Colombian
security forces to go on the offensive against FARC.
have pushed the rebels out of urban areas, off the country’s main
highways and deep into rural enclaves where some top leaders have been
reduced to hiding in caves to escape army patrols.
Colombian military intelligence operation last year led to the release
of three American defense contractors who had been held for years by
the rebels in secret jungle camps.
FARC still holds 22 Colombian police officers and soldiers for political leverage and hundreds of other Colombians for ransom.