Tags: Colombia | conflict | talks | rebels

FARC Confirms Release of Two Colombia Soldiers Tuesday

Monday, 24 Nov 2014 10:45 AM

Colombia's FARC guerrillas confirmed they will release two soldiers Tuesday in a deal to revive peace talks, warning the army not to jeopardize the separate release of a captive general.

The soldiers' release, part of an agreement to salvage a peace process derailed by the FARC's capture of General Ruben Alzate, will take place Tuesday morning in the eastern department of Arauca, where the pair were captured in combat on November 9, the rebels said.

They said the release of the general -- who was captured in a separate incident in the western department of Choco on November 16 -- was still planned for later in the week but hinged on the army's actions.

"We hope the defense ministry will act with prudence and discretion so as not to block the release of General Ruben Dario Alzate," the FARC said in a statement from the Cuban capital Havana, where the peace talks had been taking place.

Alzate, the highest-ranking captive taken by the leftist guerrillas in 50 years of conflict, was captured along with a corporal and an adviser as they traveled by boat to visit a civilian energy project.

The incident caused President Juan Manuel Santos to call off the two-year-old peace talks, the most promising effort yet to end the conflict.

Under a deal announced last Wednesday, the FARC has promised to release all five captives -- Alzate, Corporal Jorge Rodriguez, army adviser Gloria Urrego and soldiers Paulo Cesar Rivera and Jonathan Diaz -- in order to resume negotiations.

But the FARC accused the army of putting the deal at risk with bombings, surveillance flights and clashes with its fighters in Choco, the jungle-covered region where Alzate heads a task force charged with fighting rebels and drug traffickers.

"The noisy operation deployed by the army on the Atrato River in the forgotten and plundered department of Choco, presented by the defense ministry as a deployment to protect the population, is nothing but a risky, mercenary attempt to rescue the general and his companions," they said.

The defense ministry has denied trying to mount a rescue operation.

In a separate statement, the FARC's leader, Timoleon Jimenez, said the government's suspension of negotiations had "destroyed trust."

"Things can't just resume as they were," he said in a statement datelined from the Colombian mountains and published on the rebels' website.

"A number of things will have to be taken into consideration."

The FARC has justified its capture of the army hostages as legitimate acts of war taken in the absence of a ceasefire.

Santos has repeatedly rejected the rebels' demands for a ceasefire, saying it would strengthen their hand.

 

© AFP 2017

 
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Colombia's FARC guerrillas confirmed they will release two soldiers Tuesday in a deal to revive peace talks, warning the army not to jeopardize the separate release of a captive general.The soldiers' release, part of an agreement to salvage a peace process derailed by the...
Colombia, conflict, talks, rebels
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2014-45-24
Monday, 24 Nov 2014 10:45 AM
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