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FARC Captures Vacationing Soldier, Colombia's Government Says

  • Reuters

Ivan Marquez, chief negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, speaks to reporters during a round of peace talks with Colombia's government in Havana, Cuba, Dec. 3, 2015.

Ivan Marquez, chief negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, speaks to reporters during a round of peace talks with Colombia's government in Havana, Cuba, Dec. 3, 2015.

Colombia's FARC rebels captured a soldier who was on vacation in the country's southern jungles, an incident that violated the group's unilateral cease-fire but will not affect ongoing peace talks if he is freed, the government said Friday.

Jesus Rojas was seized by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia near San Vicente del Caguan, in Caqueta province, while he was visiting family. The guerrilla group accused him of spying, Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas told reporters.

"The soldier is in the hands of the FARC. It has confirmed as much to his family and has said it will hand him over quickly. The Red Cross has been contacted by the military to arrange the operation, which I hope will be in the coming hours," Villegas said.

The FARC has not publicly responded to Villegas' comments.

The government and the guerrilla group have been engaged since late 2012 in peace talks in Cuba aimed at ending a five-decade war that has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions.

President Juan Manuel Santos has said he wants a peace accord signed by March 23 and has shown a willingness to call for a bilateral cease-fire as soon as this year.

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