By VANESSA ARRINGTON, Associated Press Writer
BOGOTA, Colombia - Rebel leaders said Monday they will release four Israelis and a Briton during the next several days, after holding the foreigners hostage in northern Colombia for three months.
Slideshow: Colombian Rebels Release Hostages
Rebels of the National Liberation Army, Colombia's second-largest guerrilla group, announced they would liberate the five hostages because Colombian military operations in the area had increased the possibility of the hostages being accidently killed or wounded by the government.
"As proof of our flexibility and maturity, we promise to liberate the hostages in the upcoming days, hopefully before the end of the year, to avoid such a tragedy," said the group, known by its Spanish acronym ELN.
ELN gunmen seized eight foreign backpackers from jungle ruins in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains on Sept. 12. One of the hostages, a British teenager, escaped days later. Two other hostages a German and a Spaniard were released to a humanitarian commission in November.