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Colombia's FARC to Free Kidnapped Soldier

  • Reuters

FILE - Opponents of government peace talks with FARC guerrillas shout slogans during a march in Bogota, Colombia, Dec. 13, 2014.

FILE - Opponents of government peace talks with FARC guerrillas shout slogans during a march in Bogota, Colombia, Dec. 13, 2014.

Colombia's Marxist FARC rebels will soon free a soldier captured last week during an ambush of a military patrol in which they killed five of his colleagues, according to an online statement Thursday.

The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, began a pre-announced cease-fire at midnight last Friday, the same day they captured Carlos Becerra Ojeda, 25, during the attack on troops patrolling in the southwestern province of Cauca.

"The liberation is another gesture of peace by the FARC and a humanitarian act at the same time, considering that the soldier was lightly wounded during the combat," the statement said.

The soldier would be handed over at an unspecified time in the coming days to a delegation comprising the International Red Cross and representatives of Cuba and Norway, both guarantors in peace talks between the rebels and Colombia's government.

In a separate statement Thursday, the FARC said it would aim for peace in 2015 amid progress in talks launched by President Juan Manuel Santos in late 2012, in the latest of several recent conciliatory statements by the rebels.

The sides have reached partial deals on land reform, the FARC's future participation in politics and how to end the drug trade. The tricky points of victim compensation and how to bring the armed conflict to an end have yet to be agreed on.

The FARC has called cease-fires each year over Christmas since the peace talks began but made the surprise announcement last week that this year's cease-fire would be indefinite, ending only if government troops attacked.

The FARC was formed in 1964, mushrooming out of a peasant movement demanding land reform, and has fought successive governments in a mainly rural conflict that has killed more than 220,000 and uprooted millions from their homes.

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