Colombia's FARC rebels end ceasefire

Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:04am EST
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By Jeff Franks

HAVANA (Reuters) - A unilateral ceasefire declared by the Marxist FARC rebels at the start of peace talks with the Colombian government ended on Sunday after the government refused to join the truce, the group said.

"With pain in my heart, we have to admit that we return to the stage of war that nobody in this country (Colombia) wants," FARC lead negotiator Ivan Marquez told reporters before going into the latest session of the talks aimed at ending Colombia's long, bloody conflict.

The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, declared the ceasefire when the talks began on November 19 in Havana, and gave the government two months to also lay down its arms.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos rejected the ceasefire from the beginning, saying the government would maintain the military pressure to keep FARC at the negotiating table.

Colombian officials have called the ceasefire a sham to gain international favor and accused the rebels of continuing their attacks.

Government forces have continued to attack and kill the rebels in their remote strongholds in the jungles and mountains of Colombia. They say the rebels may be planning a new offensive.

Marquez did not disclose their plans, but urged Santos to reconsider the decision not to lay down arms.


Colombia's Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) lead negotiator Ivan Marquez arrives for talks in Havana January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa