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Colombian Paramilitaries Surrender Weapons


Hundreds of Colombian rightist paramilitaries have turned in their weapons in a ceremony in southern Colombia.

Government Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo was present Wednesday as the 552 fighters from the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, disarmed in the jungle city of Valparaiso.

With Wednesday's ceremony, nearly 22,000 paramilitaries have now disarmed as part of a controversial peace process that President Alvaro Uribe initiated with the AUC in 2003.

The former fighters are to take part in programs to reintegrate them into society. Those directly involved in massacres could receive reduced prison sentences. Colombia has been mired in a more than four-decade conflict involving leftist rebels, rightist paramilitaries and the government. The conflict leaves thousands dead each year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.