FARC Rebels Clash with Colombian Army, Kidnap Two Soldiers
EspañolDespite ongoing peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), violent confrontations between the two parties continue.
On November 9, one such battle resulted in the death of a Colombian solider, three wounded, and two others missing. A third Colombian solider, who initially went missing, was later found alive with his equipment intact.
The Colombian government is currently in talks with the FARC in Havana, Cuba, seeking to end Colombia’s bloody 40-year civil war. Jaime Alfonso Lasprilla, a Colombian Army commander, claimed the FARC kidnappings were “a flagrant violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.”
“The FARC have pledged to no longer kidnap citizens, including soldiers,” said Lasprilla, referring to an agreement reached between the two parties in early 2013. General Luis Herlindo Mendieta, who was himself kidnapped by the FARC in 1998, described the kidnappings as “pitiful” and “unusual.” He also called upon negotiators in Havana to facilitate the release of the soldiers.
“We must urge the negotiators representing the Colombian government in Cuba to take the necessary measures to free our soldiers. We also want both parties to issue a statement concerning the matter,” Mendieta said. Given the seriousness of the incident, Democratic Center Party Senator Ernesto Macias has called upon President Juan Manuel Santos to suspend peace talks with the FARC insurgents.
“For negotiations to continue, the government must demand more from the FARC. Otherwise, all progress will be lost, because the FARC will effectively dictate the public security agenda, instead of the Colombian government,” said the congressman.
Roy Barreras, co-chairman of the Peace Commission in Congress, likewise called for the release of the soldiers, though maintained that the government should continue in its efforts to reach a peace agreement.
“We must remember that these peace talks are being held in the middle of a conflict … these acts of war are always sad and painful. We are trying to make peace in order to prevent more kidnappings and casualties from happening.”