Colombia’s largest rebel group FARC announced Sunday its intention to release all ten captive members of the security forces and to abandon kidnapping civilians for extortion purposes.
The announcement was made in a statement published on the website of Anncol, a leftist news organization with alleged ties to the rebel group.
The FARC announced “our decision to add the remaining four to the announced decision to release six prisoners of war” and that “from today on we ban the practice” of “the retention of people … in order to finance our struggle.”
The guerrilla group announced that it will continue its armed war with the Colombian state, but to “resort to other forms of funding and political pressure.”
In a response on Twitter, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was said to be “very happy for the ten hostages they will release and their families.”
“We appreciate the announcement of the FARC to renounce all kidnapping as an important and necessary step” in “the right direction,” said Santos who added that the announcement was “not enough.”
The Colombian government has always demanded the release of the hostages and the abandoning of kidnapping to start peace talks with the country’s oldest and largest insurgency, but have also demanded the guerrilla group ceases “terrorist activity.”
In their statement, the rebels blamed the Santos administration for taking “the arrogant decision” to “increase military spending, the number of troops and operations” which will result in “an indefinite prolongation of the war” and subsequently “more death and destruction, more injured, more prisoners of war on both sides” and “more civilians unjustly incarcerated.”
The FARC have been fighting the Colombian government since 1964 and have been funded by drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping. Since the beginning of this century the guerrilla group has been pushed away from Colombia’s major cities and economically vital areas by the country’s armed forces and right-wing paramilitary forces. However, according to several research centers, the guerrillas have increased their offensive actions over the past years.