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Colombia’s FARC rebels end ceasefire

Colombia’s FARC rebels have announced the end of a two-month unilateral ceasefire with the government. Both parties are in Cuba for further talks, with the Colombian government unwilling to sign a bilateral ceasefire.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced Sunday the end of a ceasefire that was declared in November 2012 during peace talks in Cuba.

FARC rebels had been willing to extend the truce if the government signed a bilateral ceasefire agreement. However President Juan Manuel Santos has rejected this idea from the beginning. He says the group only partially fulfilled its ceasefire pledge.

"With heartache again we must admit the return of the military phase of the war, which nobody wants," FARC chief negotiator Ivan Marquez told reporters before going into the latest negotiation sessions with government representatives in Havana.

Former Vice President Humberto de la Calle, head of the government delegation, did not speak to reporters ahead of Sunday's talks.

Negotiations between government and FARC officials resumed in Havana earlier this month after a three-week holiday break.

So far discussions have focused on rural development, which is the first item of an agreed five-point agenda. Other topics include drug trafficking, political participation, disarmament and victims' rights.

The conflict dates back to 1964 when the FARC emerged as a communist agrarian movement fighting social inequality in Colombia. The conflict has claimed thousands of lives in what is Latin America's longest running insurgency.

The group was weakened by a US-backed military offensive in 2002 that had reduced its numbers to about 8,000 and forced them into remote mountain and jungle strongholds.

The FARC has sustained itself by cocaine trafficking, kidnapping, ransom and "war taxes" charged within the territories it controls.

hc/ipj (Reuters, AFP)