Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia Farc rebels call unilateral ceasefire

Farc delegation in Cuba, 8 July 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The ceasefire will come into force on 20 July, the Farc announced in Cuba

Colombia's Farc rebels have announced a one-month unilateral ceasefire.

The Farc has been taking part in peace talks with the Colombian government since 2012, but violence has increased in recent weeks.

The Farc's chief negotiator at the talks in Cuba, Ivan Marquez, said he hoped the ceasefire, starting on 20 July, could lead to a bilateral truce.

The government welcomed the move but gave no sign it would do likewise and said the rebels needed to do more.

"We appreciate the gesture of a unilateral ceasefire by the Farc but more is needed, especially concrete commitments to speed up the negotiations," President Juan Manuel Santos said on Twitter (in Spanish).

For his part, Mr Marquez said the truce would "create favourable conditions in order to advance with the opposing side toward a bilateral and definitive ceasefire."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Hostilities with the Colombian military have escalated recently

Four countries helping to facilitate the peace talks - Cuba, Norway, Chile and Venezuela - issued a call on Tuesday for a de-escalation in the violence.

A previous Farc ceasefire was called in December, but clashes resumed in April with the killing of 11 soldiers and subsequent bombing raids on rebel positions.

Farc suspended that unilateral ceasefire on 22 May.

Since the ceasefire ended, several dozen rebels and soldiers have been killed.

In June, the group blew up an oil pipeline, which contaminated water and left at least 16,000 people without supplies in the municipality of Catatumbo in the north.

The talks in Havana, which began in November 2012, are aimed at ending more than 50 years of conflict. More than 200,000 people have been killed since hostilities started in 1964.

Negotiations have continued despite the violence, and agreement has been reached on several points.

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