Leftist rebels on Friday freed nine Colombians kidnapped earlier in the week at a roadblock where four American bird watchers and an Italian businessman also were seized. The guerrillas said they were evaluating how much ransom to ask for the foreigners.

Comandante Romana, local leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, told the Associated Press the group was "investigating" the foreigners' net worth before deciding how much ransom to demand.He spoke in a rebel stronghold in craggy mountains just south of Bogota.

The freed hostages were turned over near El Calvario, 35 miles from the capital to a group headed by Andres Gonzalez, governor of Cundinamarca state.

"It was pretty unpleasant, but here we are, already freed," Jairo Valverde, one of the freed hostages, told Radionet radio.

All had been kidnapped Monday on a roadblock set up by the FARC, the nation's largest and most powerful rebel band, when rebels diverted traffic for more than five hours from a main highway up a dirt road toward El Calvario. Two teenagers were among those freed.

The fate of the Americans - Louise Augustine, a 63-year-old former nun from Chillicothe, Ill., Peter Shen of New York City, Todd Marks and Tom Fiore, was still unknown. The ages and hometowns of Marks and Fiore were not known, and the U.S. Embassy has refused to provide any information.

Italian businessman Vito Candela, who owns an import-export business in Bogota, also remained in rebel hands.

Colombia has the world's highest kidnapping rate, with an average of more than four abductions a day. Foreigners are choice targets because they usually fetch higher ransoms.