Colombia’s largest rebel group, FARC, is “challenging” the ongoing peace process with the government by taking “prisoners of war,” said Colombian vice president Angelino Garzon on Wednesday.
Garzon said the FARC’s decision to refer to kidnapped soldiers as “prisoners of war” was “unfortunate.”
FARC rebels on Sunday kidnapped two policemen in the southwestern Valle del Cauca department, some 20 miles east of Colombia’s third largest city, Cali. A FARC message on Wednesday said that the two policemen were considered prisoners of war and not kidnaps victims.
“We reserve the right to capture as prisoners members of the security forces who have surrendered in combat. They are called prisoners of war, and this phenomenon occurs in every conflict in the world,” the message said.
Colombia’s vice president on Wednesday warned the rebels that the Colombian state had the capacity to defeat them militarily.
In early 2012, the FARC vowed to end the practice of kidnapping civilians for financial reasons.
The FARC and the Colombian government are currently involved in peace negotiations in the Cuban capital of Havana with an aim of putting an end to the nearly half-century-long armed conflict.