Latin America & Caribbean

Farc rebels killed in new Colombian army offensive

Colombian soldiers stand by the coffins of 11 of their colleagues killed in Cauca, 16 April Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Colombian army resumed air strikes after the Farc killed 11 soldiers in April

Colombia's security forces have killed at least five fighters from the Farc rebel group in an air strike in the north-western region of Antioquia.

On Thursday, 26 rebels were killed in a similar operation in southern Colombia, prompting the Farc to suspend its unilateral ceasefire.

The rebels and the government have been in peace talks for more than two years.

They have said they will not pull out of the process, but they have accused the authorities of "incoherence".

'Rearm and regroup'

President Juan Manuel Santos has said he expects the rebels to retaliate, but made an appeal to "speed up" negotiations.

"That is exactly what we need to put an end to: this spiral of violence, hatred, vengeance and retaliation, which has driven us to 50 years of war," he said.

Thursday's operation - in the country's south-western Cauca region - was the deadliest since the resumption of air strikes against the rebels last month.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Farc commander Pastor Alape said the rebels were killed without the chance of fighting back

The Farc has repeatedly called for a full bilateral ceasefire during the peace negotiations.

But the Colombian government says the rebels have used previous truces to rearm and regroup.

Some 220,000 people are estimated to have died in more than five decades of violence and at least three million have been displaced.


The peace process

November 2012 - Formal peace talks begin in the Cuban capital Havana between the Colombian government and the Farc.

May 2013 - A deal is reached on land reform, one of the most contentious issues. It calls for fair access to land, and rural development, two key causes of the conflict.

November 2013 - The two sides agree on the political participation of the Farc should a peace deal be reached.

May 2014 - Both parties pledge to eliminate all illicit drug production in Colombia.

December 2014 - Farc declares a unilateral ceasefire.

March 2015 - Both sides agree to work together to remove landmines. Colombia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

April 2015 Government resumes air strikes after the Farc kills 11 soldiers in ambush.

May 2015 Farc suspends its unilateral ceasefire after government military operation kills 26 rebel fighters.

What is at stake in Colombia's peace process?

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