Colombia’s Defense Minister claimed Tuesday that 117 members of not-demobilized urban militias of disarming guerrilla group FARC demobilized.
The demobilized armed men said to be demobilized members of the FARC’s urban militia in the southwestern port town of Tumaco, Nariño, a claim allegedly denied by the guerrilla organization.
The 100 armed men and women, and 17 minors demobilized in a pre-arranged location under the leadership of “Pollo.”
The self-proclaimed militia members arrived in uniform with a large number of weapons, including an AK-47 rifle, an R-15 rifle, an M-1 rifle, a sub-machine gun, 13 pistols, seven revolvers, and a hand grenade. They also handed over two communication radios, according to local media.
The group is currently being held in a hotel under the protection of the Colombian army until the verification process is completed, Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas told press on Tuesday.
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The 17 children who arrived with the group have been handed over to Colombia’s Child Welfare Agency (ICBF), who will be carrying out the procedures to have the minors returned to their relatives.
According to national news agency Colprensa, Pollo and his group had deserted from the FARC’s “Daniel Aldana” group ahead of the FARC’s demobilization in February, but allegedly regretted their decision.
“”Pollo” wanted to return to the peace process since at least January, and in March he submitted a list of 333 dissident militia members who wanted to surrender,” Kyle Johnson of the International Crisis Group told Colombia Reports.
Nariño peace adviser Harold Ruiz told newspaper El Tiempo that Pollo’s supposed superior in the guerrilla group, “Pacho Chino,” “at a security council meeting where we presented him the case, denied these people were FARC members.”
In the end, Pollo demobilized on Monday with 116 others.
The doubts about the demobilized group come at a time there is uncertainty about the fate of thousands of members of the FARC’s urban militias who, unlike the guerrilla forces, have apparently not entered the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration process.
In fact, it wasn’t until Sunday that the FARC vowed to surrender its full list of members, both guerrillas and “milicianos,” who operated from home in guerrilla intelligence operations or attacks.
This list was supposed to be in the hands of authorities three months ago.
So far, the FARC has demobilized 7,000 guerrillas, who are currently in the process of disarmament under the supervision of the United Nations.
However, President Juan Manuel Santos said ahead of the peace agreement that “I estimate that there are about 7,500 FARC armed men and some 10,000 militia members,” leaving the fate of the latter group unclear.
The Colombian government said Tuesday that by the end of this week the FARC will have handed in the complete list of its militia members.