The FARC, Colombia’s largest armed group, said on Sunday that it would implement a 30-day ceasefire from 15 December, but President Juan Manuel Santos said the army would continue to pursue the rebels after they attacked a police station a day earlier, killing at least eight people.
The statement was made by the FARC’s Pablo Catatumbo, one of the negotiators in the peace talks between the armed group and the Colombian government, reported Colombia’s W Radio on Monday morning.
“We unilaterally proceed to order all our guerrilla and militia units a cease fire and hostilities for 30 days from 00:00 hours on Dec. 15, thus corresponding to a deep national outcry,” said the FARC in a statement late Sunday,
“We’ve survived for half a century and we are able to resist as much as necessary But we honestly believe that our country does not deserve this bloodshed. Colombians and the world need to be aware of the safe and defamatory propaganda onslaught from very highest levels of government and the armed forces will be launched against us as a result of this declaration.”
Hours after bloodshed
Five soldiers, a police officer and three civilians were killed on Saturday when FARC rebels allegedly exploded a car bomb outside a police station in the town of Inza, in south-western Cauca province.
The FARC claimed responsibility of the bloodiest rebel attack in months just a day before proposing the ceasefire.
When peace talks began, there was no ceasefire in place and President Juan Manuel Santos said negotiations should take “months, not years.” But now talks to the end a conflict that has killed at least 220,000 Colombians since 1964 have gone for more than a year and only two of the six peace points have been ratified.
Despite the rhetoric, both sides will return to the peace talks on Tuesday 17 December, said W Radio.
No ceasefire until peace: Santos
From Inza, Santos said the government would consider a ceasefire only when a peace deal has been reached, reported Reuters.
“If the FARC believe that with acts like this they are going to lead us to a ceasefire, which is also what they are saying, they are totally mistaken,” he said.
“We will continue attacking them. The offensive will continue,” said Santos who has announced he will run for re-election in a presidential ballot next May, the campaigns for which are likely to focus on how to deal with the FARC.