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Colombia extends cease-fire with Nationwide Liberation Military as rebels promise to cease kidnappings

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BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombia’s authorities and the nation’s largest remaining guerrilla group have prolonged by six months a ceasefire that started final 12 months, with the Nationwide Liberation Military rebels additionally promising to cease kidnapping civilians for ransom.

The truce was set to run out on Tuesday. However in a short assertion issued simply minutes earlier than midnight, each side stated that they’ve prolonged the cease-fire for 180 days.

The assertion says the Nationwide Liberation Military, identified by its Spanish acronym ELN, will “briefly and unilaterally droop financial detentions” so as to contribute to the cease-fire

In a while Tuesday, each side printed a extra detailed assertion in regards to the ceasefire extension. In it they stated that they had agreed to create a web site in regards to the peace talks and that kids beneath 15 wouldn’t be used to conduct intelligence operations or different kinds of navy actions.

Authorities officers stated they had been happy with the brand new phrases of the cease-fire.

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“Lots of the peace offers which have been signed on this nation have had little influence on the bottom,” Otty Patiño, Colombia’s peace commissioner, advised native radio station Blu. “It is extremely necessary to work on territorial peace.”

Colombia’s authorities and the ELN have been holding peace talks since late 2022 as President Gustavo Petro tries to pacify a number of armed teams that weren’t a part of a 2016 peace deal between the federal government and the nation’s essential insurgent group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

A cease-fire between the federal government and ELN began in August, and has decreased preventing between each side. However throughout the truce, the rebels even have been recruiting youngsters, and financing their operations by extorsion and kidnappings, resulting in complaints that the cease-fire hasn’t carried out sufficient to enhance safety for civilians in rural areas.

“The ceasefire has decreased the variety of battles between the ELN and the federal government,” stated Elizabeth Dickinson, a Colombia analyst for the Worldwide Disaster Group. “However violence in Colombia has lengthy come from combats between unlawful teams, and from the strain they exert on civilians.”

In October, the cease-fire virtually broke down when an ELN detachment in northern Colombia kidnapped the dad and mom of Luis Díaz, one of many nation’s most beloved soccer gamers. Díaz’s mom was rapidly rescued by police, whereas his father was launched 12 days later following quite a few protests and petitions.

The insurgent group has been reluctant to reveal what number of hostages it’s presently holding, although Colombia’s protection ministry has stated that the ELN could possibly be holding no less than 38 civilians.

The brand new ceasefire settlement didn’t specify whether or not the ELN’s present hostages can be launched, sparking complaints from critics of president Petro, who’ve accused his administration of being too gentle on the rebels.

On Tuesday, Jose Jaime Uscategui, a congressman for the conservative Democratic Heart Occasion, tied himself to the entrance gate of Colombia’s embassy in Cuba, carrying the photographs of civilians who’re reportedly being held by the ELN.

“The households of those folks demand to know what occurred to their family members,” Uscategui stated.

The rebels have requested the federal government to supply them with alternate methods to finance their operations, whereas talks proceed to happen. The federal government has denied that request, however on Tuesday agreed to making a fund by which actions associated to the peace talks will probably be financed, together with the supply of humanitarian support to areas affected by the battle and “instructional actions” that can inform communities in regards to the peace talks.

The cease-fire assertion stated that the circumstances beneath which the rebels will stop kidnappings will proceed to be mentioned in an upcoming spherical of talks in April.

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