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Colombian Leftist Rebels Acknowledge Capture of Army General

Tuesday, 18 Nov 2014 01:54 PM

Colombia's FARC rebels on Tuesday acknowledged they had captured a Colombian army general, calling it a legitimate act of war, and urged the Colombian government to reconsider its decision to suspend peace talks over the abduction.

FARC negotiators who have been in talks with the Colombian government in Havana said they were willing to work for the release of army General Ruben Dario Alzate but that his fate would be determined by rebel commanders of the so-called Ivan Rio Bloc on the ground in the northwestern department of Choco.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos suspended the two-year-old Havana peace talks on Sunday after the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) abducted Alzate, another soldier and a civilian.

"Once they were clearly indentified, despite wearing civilian clothes, the three were captured by our units because it involves enemy military personnel who were carrying out their duties in a war zone," FARC leader Jorge Torres Victoria, alias Pablo Catatumbo, told reporters in Havana.

He called it the first time insurgents had captured an army general and said "this peace delegation is willing to contribute to a prompt, sensible solution to this problem."

The FARC identified the others as Second Corporal Jorge Contreras and Gloria Urrego, a lawyer representing the military.

The rebels said the incident once again showed the need for a truce in order to improve the climate for negotiations.

The conflict between the Marxist-inspired guerrillas and Colombia's government has continued during the peace talks. Latin America's longest-running war has killed some 200,000 people over 50 years.

Santos has staked his presidency on the talks but has refused to offer a ceasefire, citing previous negotiations when the FARC took advantage of truces to rearm.

The FARC says it has stopped kidnapping for ransom but considers military personnel fair targets in the absence of a ceasefire.

The FARC said it was surprised Santos suspended the talks, a decision it called "impulsive."

Santos has been under political pressure to end the talks from right-wing critics at home who say Colombia should attempt to defeat the FARC militarily.

Government and rebel peace negotiators have reached three partial agreements and until the suspension were simultaneously working on two more. Any final deal would be put before Colombian voters for ratification.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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Colombia's FARC rebels on Tuesday acknowledged they had captureda Colombian army general, calling it a legitimate act of war, and urged the Colombian government to reconsider its decision to suspend peace talks over the abduction. FARC negotiators who have been in talks...
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Tuesday, 18 Nov 2014 01:54 PM
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