The U.S. State Department called Colombian rebel group FARC’s recent announcement to release ten hostages “important and necessary,” but also warned that the group lacks credibility after past broken agreements.
Neda Brown, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, told Colombia Reports that “the FARC has promised release of prisoners before; such promises are not credible until fully carried out.”
Still, the State Department called the announcement an “important and necessary step forward.” Brown added that the U.S. government stands with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in asking that FARC “renounce all violence and lawlessness.”
The FARC, Colombia’s largest and oldest insurgency, announced on its website Sunday that it will release ten captive members of the security forces and will no longer kidnap civilians in order to finance their insurgency against the state.
But It is not clear whether the rebel group plans to release ransom-kidnapping victims already being held. The exact number of ransom-kidnapping victims is unknown, but aid organizations estimate there could be more than 700 people in captivity.
There is also skepticism that FARC leaders will be able to enforce the edict. The rebel group’s fronts are widely spread and its leadership has been thinned after recent killings. The group’s leader Alfonso Cano, whose real name was Guillermo Saenz, was killed last year during a firefight with government troops. Timoleon Jimenez, also known as Timochenko, replaced him in November.
The announcement, however, could advance prospects for a peace dialogue sought by the rebels. The government has insisted the FARC end all kidnappings as a minimal first step.