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Colombia's FARC rebels call ceasefire

July 8, 2015

Rebel group FARC has said it will call a month-long ceasefire in an effort to boost ongoing peace talks with the Colombian government. It comes after calls for a de-escalation in the violent conflict.

Colombian soldiers carry the body of a comrade killed after a rebel attack in La Esperanza village, Colombia, in this April 15, 2015.
Image: Reuters/J. Saldarriaga

Chief rebel negotiator Ivan Marquez announced on Wednesday that the group will observe the truce for one month, with the long term goal of coming to a more permanent solution. Marquez said the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) hopes to "create favorable conditions in order to advance with the opposing side toward a bilateral and definitive ceasefire."

The guerrilla army says it is calling for a pause in fighting after appeals from international mediators Cuba, Norway, Chile and Venezuela to "de-escalate" intensifying fighting.

On Tuesday the four nations issued calls for "confidence-building measures" between the opposing sides, in an effort to "create a climate conducive to achieving [an] agreement" and end Latin America's longest running war.

FARC says it is seeking a mutual ceasefire. The government has previously criticized this, saying the rebels have used these opportunities in the past to rearm and re-group. On Twitter, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos spoke positively about the offer, but cautioned that more "concrete commitments" were needed to speed up negotiations.

Talks have been in progress since November 2012 in the Cuban capital, Havana. Although FARC called a previous unilateral truce in December last year, skirmishes continued to break out between government troops and rebel soldiers. This culminated in the president ordering renewed air strikes on FARC sites in April, with both sides blaming each other for the continuing escalation in violence.

Since then, the rebels have resumed their military operations, as well as sabotaging and disrupting utilities.

On Tuesday officials accused FARC of attacking a military convoy carrying oil in the southwestern state of Putumayo, killing three soldiers and injuring several others. Attacks in the south of the country were also attributed to the guerrillas.

The ceasefire is scheduled to begin on July 20.

an/kms (AFP, Reuters, AP)