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FARC talks suspended

November 17, 2014

On the eve of scheduled peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC rebels, President Santos has suspended the talks after the kidnapping of a general. The defense ministry has implicated FARC.

Kolumbien FARC
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Joana Toro

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced late on Sunday that peace talks meant to take place on Monday in Havana would be suspended until General Ruben Dario Alzate and two other people kidnapped on Sunday were released.

"Tomorrow negotiators were to travel to another round of talks in Havana," Santos said. "I will tell them not to go and that the talks are suspended until these people are released."

Peace talks with FARC, Colombia's largest rebel group, have been ongoing for two years, but the high-profile kidnapping of a general could be a major setback. Alzate heads the Titan task force in Colombia's department of Choco on the Pacific.

Taken from a boat

According to Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon, Alzate was getting off a river boat near the city of Quibdo to visit the site of an energy project when he was taken captive. Another military official and a civilian lawyer were also taken. A solider driving the boat managed to escape and raise the alarm.

Pinzon also said FARC were responsible for the kidnapping.

FARC, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has battled a dozen governments since it began as an agrarian struggle against rural inequality but has been weakened over the past 10 years by a heavy US-backed offensive. The conflict has killed more than 200,000 people since it began almost five decades ago.

mz/av (Reuters, AP, AFP)