Colombia tricks rebels into freeing Betancourt, 3 Americans, 11 more

Colombian spies tricked leftist rebels into handing over kidnapped presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three US military contractors Wednesday in a daring helicopter rescue so successful that not a single shot was fired. Betancourt, who was seized on the campaign trail six long years ago, appeared thin but healthy as she strode down the stairs of a military plane and held her mother in a long embrace. She said she still aspires to the presidency. "God, this is a miracle," Betancourt said. "Such a perfect operation is unprecedented." Eleven Colombian police and soldiers were also freed in the rescue, the most serious blow ever dealt to the 44-year-old Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which considered the four hostages their most valuable bargaining chips. The FARC is already reeling from the deaths of key commanders and the loss of much of the territory it once held.