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UN removes four peacekeepers from Colombia for dancing with rebels

The UN has pulled four of its envoys out of Colombia after footage showed them dancing with leftist rebels. The organization is overseeing a peace deal that will end Colombia's decades-long conflict.

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The UN said on Thursday it had decided to "separate" the four peacekeepers, whose nationalities it withheld, from their mission helping to oversee the implementation of the peace deal in the South American country.

The announcement came after Colombian television broadcast images of the three envoys and their supervisor, dressed in the familiar blue uniforms of the UN, dancing with female FARC rebels during a New Year's Eve party.

The footage provoked an outcry from opponents of the peace deal, who argue the images throw into question the organization's impartiality. The UN has sent 280 monitors to oversee the disarmament process, in which the FARC's 5,700 members will gather near 26 demobilization zones over the next six months.

Meanwhile, FARC leaders have criticized the UN's move and said they would withdraw from the peace committee in the area where the envoys had been working.

Friedensnobelpreis 2016 an Juan Manuel Santos, Präsident Kolumbien - Preisverleihung in Oslo (Reuters/NTB Scanpix)

Juan Manuel Santos receives the Nobel Peace Prize in December

A move toward peace

The incident presents a snag in what has been seen as a historic move by both sides to bring peace to the violence-plagued country. In December, Colombia's Congress voted to grant amnesty to FARC fighters who had committed minor crimes during the country's bloody civil war.

As part of the peace process, the FARC will become a political party and be granted 10 unelected seats in the country's parliament over the course of the next decade. Nearly 6,000 guerrilla fighters have already laid down their arms.

Some 260,000 lives have been lost in the more than five decades of fighting between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Earlier in December, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to bring peace to the country.

blc/kl (AP, AFP)

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