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End called on Colombia air raids

July 26, 2015

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has ordered an end to bombing raids on FARC guerrillas as a conciliatory move in Latin America's longest-running insurgency. Peace talks restarted in Cuba last week.

Kolumbien FARC
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/C. Escobar Mora

At a military event in the seaside town of Cartagena on Saturday, President Juan Manuel Santos said the move was in response to Monday's decision by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to observe a unilateral cease fire.

"I have issued the order to stop as of today bombing raids against camps where there are members of that group," Santos said.

But Santos added that the ban on aerial bombings could be lifted if the FARC camps posed a risk to civilians or infrastructure targets. Military air strikes were resumed in April after FARC guerrillas allegedly killed eleven soldiers.

"We've agreed to de-escalate the conflict. That means fewer deaths, less suffering and fewer victims," the president said.

The FARC had suspended their unilateral truce in May following an army bombing of one of their camps, which left 26 people dead. The FARC then carried out a series of attacks, including one on an army platoon which killed 10 soldiers.

Talks in Cuba

Talks being hosted in Cuba between the government and guerrillas restarted on Thursday to try to bring to an end Latin America's oldest insurgency, which has been going on for more than 40 years at the cost of more than 200,000 lives.

The 39th round of talks between the government and the rebels is scheduled to last eleven days. The format has been changed, with negotiators breaking up into working groups to discuss different issues.

Two major points on the agenda are how to compensate victims from the conflict, and the signing of a final peace agreement.

The government and the FARC have already reached agreements on land reform, participation in politics for ex-rebels and a joint strategy to curb drug trafficking. They have also announced a joint effort to remove unexploded land mines.

But rebel negotiators are also demanding their leaders do not spend any time in jail for atrocities allegedly committed by fighters under their command.

jm/jlw (AFP, AP)