Colombia’s FARC, the country’s largest left-wing rebel group, vowed to free 10 remaining police and military hostages and to end once and for all its practice of kidnapping civilians, according to a statement published on February 26.
“We wish to announce that in addition to our already announced plans to free six prisoners of war, we will free the four others who remain under our power,” the group said on its website.
Plans to free the hostages, who have been held for more than a decade, were announced by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels on their site.
The communique said the group planned to “outlaw the practice” of civilian kidnapping, which for decades it had used as a way to raise revenue, saying the tactic was no longer seen as compatible with “our revolutionary activity.”
The statement, dated February 26, and signed by the Central Secretariat of the FARC, said “serious obstacles” still remain to the conclusion of a peace agreement with the Colombian government.
Earlier in February, the rebel group had postponed an earlier decision to free a half-dozen military and police hostages, citing military movements in the area where the captives were held.
Founded in 1964, the FARC is holding at least 10 police and soldiers hostage with the goal of trading them for several hundred imprisoned guerrillas. They also are holding an unknown number of civilians for ransom.
The FARC has come under increasing pressure to free their hostages with protests erupting nationwide after four rebel prisoners were allegedly killed by their captors on November 26, when a rebel camp came under attack.