Three guerrilla fighters of Colombia’s largest rebel group FARC were injured in combat with the military, weeks after both had agreed to a bilateral ceasefire.
The violent incident took place in the municipality of Uribe, Meta in the center of the country
The rural municipality is close to one of the country’s largest coca growing areas and an important guerrilla hotspot.
According to Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas, the military unit that had engaged in combat with the guerrillas offered medical assistance after the fighting, but this claim was denied by the FARC.
According to FARC peace negotiator Carlos Antonio Lozada, the military refused to evacuate the injured guerrilla fighters, violated international humanitarian law and undermined confidence at the peace talks that have been ongoing since late 2012.
Negativa de @COL_EJERCITO a evacuación aérea de guerrilleros heridos en Uribe, Meta, viola el DIH y mina confianza de la Mesa
— Carlos A. Lozada (@Carlozada_FARC) July 10, 2016
Both parties have agreed to ample deescalation measures and to allow international observers to monitor and verify possible breaches of the accords once a peace deal is signed.
However, until a formal peace deal is signed these foreign observers have no mandate and the situation remains potentially explosive.
A major FARC front active near where the incident happened last week reiterated its refusal to demobilize and disarm with the rest of the 52-year-old guerrilla organization.
However, other fronts have largely complied with the order to cease hostilities and could begin demobilizing within weeks or months.
If they do, the peace agreement will end the armed conflict between the FARC and the Colombian state, the longest-running in the hemisphere.
Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, has also agreed to formal peace talks but has failed to find agreement on specifics that would allow these talks to start.
Paramilitary groups that refused to demobilize after peace talks with the administration of former President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) also continue to be active throughout the country.