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FARC leader hospitalized following stroke

July 3, 2017

The leader of Colombia's FARC rebels has suffered a stroke, just days after a historic handover of weapons. The left-wing rebels signed a historic peace deal in November after four years of negotiations.

Rodrigo Londono
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Duenas Castaneda

The top commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was hospitalized on Sunday morning after suffering a stroke and is in "satisfactory" condition, according to doctors.

Rodrigo Londono, known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, was placed in intensive day just days after Latin America's oldest armed guerrilla force declared an end to their half-century insurgency and relinquished the last of their individual weapons.

Read more: Colombia's FARC rebels seal historic disarmament

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FARC rebels complete disarmament

Londono checked himself into a hospital in the central Colombian city of Villavicencio shortly after 8 a.m. local time.

He had been suffering from slurred speech and numbness in his arm, doctors said in a news conference.

They said his speech and mobility had already recovered 90 percent from what they described as a temporary blockage of blood to his brain. They hoped he would be released within 48 hours.

"Of course he's conscious and making jokes," another rebel leader known by his alias Pastor Alape said at the press conference.

The stroke was the latest in a series of health scares for the 59-year-old, with FARC recently confirming that Londono suffered a heart attack during peace negotiations in Cuba in 2015. Earlier this year he had another unspecified medical setback.

"Thank you to everyone who is concerned about my health," Londono said on Twitter. "Everything is going well. I also thank the medical team for their care."

Latin America's longest-running conflict

Members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
The Marxist force had been battling Colombian governments for half a century before signing a ceasefireImage: Getty Images/AFP/L. Acosta

The historic handover of individual weapons was led by Londono along with President Juan Manuel Santos at a demobilization camp with 7,000 fighters in Colombia's eastern jungles near Villavicencio.

Hundreds of FARC caches filled with larger weapons and explosives were still being cleared out, but the United Nations has certified that all individual firearms and weapons, except for a small number needed to safeguard the soon-to-disband camps, had been collected.

The handover has helped Colombia close a chapter on Latin America's longest-running conflict, which has caused at least 250,000 deaths, left 60,000 people missing and displaced more than 7 million.

The FARC was founded as a peasant rebellion in 1964 and has fought more a dozen governments.

Londono has led FARC since 2011, when the previous leader, Guillermo Saenz, was killed by Colombian forces.
aw/cmk (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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