Ingrid Betancourt (photo) and three Americans, held by rebels, have been rescued by the Colombian authorities.
Said to be in a very poor health, Ms Betancourt, a French-Colombian politician, has been held for more than six years by the Farc, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
The French government has made securing her release a priority, and the French president’s office has confirmed Ms Betancourt’s release, reports the AFP new agency.
She is believed to suffer from serious liver problems and in a recent video, she was pictured looking frail.
For more than 40 years, the Farc has been fighting to overthrow the Colombian government.
Eleven Colombian soldiers are among the 15 hostages who have been rescued in total on Wednesday, said the Colombian military.
No-one has been hurt in Wednesday’s operation, in the southern province of Guaviare, said Colombian Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos, adding that the hostages were in relatively good health.
Lorenzo Delloye-Betancourt, Ingrid Betancourt’s son told the Associated Press news agency in Paris that her release was the “most beautiful news of my life”.
Colombian military said that the three Americans rescued were defence department contract workers, who had been captured after their light aircraft crashed in the Colombian jungle in 2003.
The successful operation by Colombian security forces will be seen as a coup for the country’s government, says the BBC’s Jeremy McDermott in Medellin.
Therefore, it will relieve the pressure on President Alvaro Uribe to negotiate with the Farc, and allowing him to continue with his US-backed military offensive against the group, BBC’s correspondent says.
He adds that with Ms Betancourt rescue, the Farc have lost a powerful negotiating tool. The group was hoping to exchange some 60 political hostages for hundreds of rebels held by the Colombian government.
More than 40 hostages are still held by the Farc.
Earlier this year, Bernard Kouchner, French Foreign minister travelled to Latin America, in order to build ties with regional leaders having influential securing hostage releases from the Farc in the past.