MOSCOW, November 17 (Sputnik) — The Colombian government has suspended two-year peace talks with FARC, the country’s largest rebel group, after Brig. Gen. Ruben Dario Alzate Mora was allegedly abducted on Sunday, Reuters reports.
“Tomorrow negotiators were to travel to another round of talks in Havana,” Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said on Sunday, as quoted by Reuters. “I will tell them not to go and that the talks are suspended until these people are released,” the president stated at a press conference.
Santos and Colombian military leaders decided to walk out of talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) following an emergency meeting on Sunday.
Brig. Gen. Ruben Dario Alzate Mora went missing near the city of Quibdo in the northern Choco province, where FARC operates. Two people traveling with him, army Corporal Jorge Rodriguez and lawyer Gloria Urrego, an official with the army’s Titan task force, were also kidnapped, according to Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon, who is leading the investigation into their disappearance. However, a soldier managed to escape telling authorities the three people were taken captive by FARC’s 34th front, according to the Associated Press.
Although rebels have not claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, Santos said they “have information that gives us certainty that it was the FARC,” as quoted by Reuters. Santos called the kidnapping “totally unacceptable” adding the general has to be returned “safe and sound”, according to BBC. He also demanded to know why the general was in Quido dressed as a civilian in breach of protocol, the AP pointed out.
International Committee of the Red Cross will assist Colombian government in their rescue efforts.
Over two years ago, FARC rebels pledged to back away from abductions. However, they later clarified that referred only to civilians; the military are a legitimate target.
FARC rebels have been active in Colombia since 1964. Since 2012, the government has been trying to achieve a lasting ceasefire with the group. Santos has been reelected on the promise to renew the stagnating peace process in the country.