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FARC Threatens to End Its Truce in Colombia

  • Reuters

FILE - Ivan Marquez, chief FARC negotiator, with Central Staff member Jesus Santrich, right, and rebel commander Joaquin Gomez, left, speaks at a news conference at the close of a round of peace talks with Colombia's government in Havana, Feb 12, 2015.

FILE - Ivan Marquez, chief FARC negotiator, with Central Staff member Jesus Santrich, right, and rebel commander Joaquin Gomez, left, speaks at a news conference at the close of a round of peace talks with Colombia's government in Havana, Feb 12, 2015.

Colombia's Marxist-led FARC guerrillas threatened Thursday to end a unilateral truce that has been in place since December unless the government of President Juan Manuel Santos called off military attacks on rebel positions.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia called its truce at Christmastime, and Santos responded March 10 by announcing Colombia's armed forces would halt aerial bombing raids for one month, saying the reprieve could be extended if the FARC continued its cease-fire.

But FARC complained that the Colombian military was carrying out other offensive maneuvers. A day before Santos announced the halt to aerial bombing, the Colombian army said it had killed longtime FARC commander Jose David Suarez, leader of a rebel front near the Panamanian border.

"We are asking President Santos to do something to save the unilateral and indefinite truce called by the FARC. Stop these military operations against the guerrilla forces now," rebel leader Ivan Marquez told reporters in Havana, the site of peace talks. "Please don't force us to break [the truce]."

The Santos government and FARC have been meeting in Cuba for nearly two-and-a-half years to try to end Latin America's longest war, which has killed about 220,000 people and displaced millions since 1964.

Fighting has continued during the talks, and bombing raids against FARC's remote jungle and mountain hideouts have enabled the government to kill several high-ranking rebel leaders in recent years.

Negotiators have reached partial deals on land reform, an end to the illegal drug trade and participation by former rebels in politics. They are now discussing victim reparations and rebel demobilization.

In a side agreement, the two sides have also announced a joint effort to begin removing land mines across the country.

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