Colombia rebels cancel unilateral cease-fire

Rebel leaders say they will continue peace talks to end 50-year conflict despite government-ordered retaliatory raids on guerrilla camps

Colombia’s largest rebel group has ended a unilateral ceasefire after 26 guerrillas were killed in a government air raid, but the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or Farc, said they would continue peace talks aimed at ending the country’s 50-year internal conflict.

“We deplore the joint attack of the air force, the army and the police … against a camp of the 29 Front of the Farc,” a rebel communique said.

“It was not in our plans to suspend the unilateral and indefinite ceasefire … but the incoherence of the Santos government has achieved that,” the Farc said, blaming continued offensives on their fighters for the end to the ceasefire.

The government of President Juan Manuel Santos suspended air raids on rebel camps in March, but ordered their resumption a month later after a Farc attack on a military patrol that left 11 soldiers dead.

In a televised statement, Santos said that during Thursday’s raid the military seized an important weapons cache.

Santos called on the guerrillas to step up the pace of peace negotiations. “The guerrillas will be thinking about retaliatory actions and that is precisely the spiral of hate and vengeance that has led us to this war of 50 years,” Santos said in a televised statement. “This is the war that we must end.”

Despite the end of the ceasefire, the Farc said it would continue with the peace talks. “Against our wishes we have to continue with the dialogue amid confrontation,” the Farc said, and reiterated the groups’ longstanding demand that a bilateral ceasefire be declared while negotiations continue.

The two sides have agreed on three major points on the peace agenda and are now tackling issues of justice and reparations for victims and the terms of a rebel demobilisation.


Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogotá

The GuardianTramp

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