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South American pop princess Shakira led nationwide demonstrations in her native Colombia yesterday demanding the liberation of hundreds of hostages held by rebels.

The 31-year-old made a pledge last week to keep fighting for the release of hostages held by Colombian rebels after 15 captives were freed earlier this month. She met with Ingrid Betancourt – a former Colombian presidential candidate and hostage – on Wednesday to raise awareness of the on-going struggle against violence in the country, and agreed to be part of the worldwide rallies that took place yesterday.

Over a million people took to the streets of Colombia for the rallies, and demanded the rebels stop their regime of violence. Many of them – wearing white clothes to symbolize peace – attended concerts held around the country, including one in the city of Leticia, where Shakira performed the national anthem in front of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

“Today is a historic day,” said Shakira. “We unite, unite our voices in a single shout: Liberty!”

Over 80 solidarity rallies were held around the world on Sunday, with Betancourt staging one of the biggest in Paris. Several thousand people attended the concert, which featured more than 30 artists including Colombian star Juanes and Spain’s Miguel Bosé. French artists Renan Luce and Michel Delpech were also present.

The Colombian government estimates that over 700 hostages are still held by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

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