FARC cease-fire lapses, deemed success

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 20, 2013 at 11:04 pm •  Published: January 20, 2013
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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A unilateral cease-fire by Colombia's main leftist rebel group that ended at midnight Sunday was deemed largely successful by analysts, who say it showed that divisions in the insurgency's ranks are relatively minor.

The rebels' main negotiator in peace talks taking place in Cuba, Ivan Marquez, offered Sunday to extend the two-month cease-fire if the government would agree to embrace it.

An alternative, Marquez told reporters in Havana as he headed into peace talks centering on agrarian reform, could be to "regularize the war" by obtaining promises from the government that it would stop placing military bases in population centers.

There was no immediate response from Colombia's government, though President Juan Manuel Santos has refused to halt hostilities during peace talks that formally began in Havana in November after six months of secret negotiations.

In a communique published Sunday, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said it had not mounted "even a single attack on bases or fixed installations of the armed forces, nor on police barracks or posts."

It said that any casualties suffered by Colombia's security forces were dealt in self-defense. The FARC said that during the same period a year earlier it had killed at least 284 security force members and wounded 278.

The rebels did not say how many casualties it had suffered during the unilateral cease-fire but at least 33 were killed in at least two major aerial bombardments on rebel camps.

There were sporadic guerrilla attacks but analyst Jorge Restrepo of the independent CERAC think tank said they exhibited "relatively minor divisions within the FARC" about whether a unilateral cease-fire was appropriate.