Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, on Friday suspended a unilateral ceasefire that had been in place since December after a military attack killed at least 26 FARC members.
The leadership of the FARC said in a press statement that it will resume attacking military and infrastructure targets.
“It was not in our plans to suspend the unilateral and indefinite cease-fire proclaimed on December 20, 2014 as a humanitarian gesture of de-escalation of the conflict, but the inconsistency of the Santos government has done so,” said the FARC.
While the army reported having killed 18 guerrillas in the airstrike in a jungle area along the Pacific coast, the rebels claimed to have lost 26 of their men and women in the attack.
The president said that he and the armed forces are “ready” for renewed FARC attacks.
“We are ready for this, but insist on searching peace,” said Santos.
The president ordered a resumption of air strikes in April after 11 soldiers were killed in a surprise attack also in Cauca. While other, minor breaches had been reported before, the public indignation over the FARC attack spurred the president to order the resumption.
Fears of escalation of violence
The mayor of Guapi, where the attack on the guerrillas took place, assured that so far there have been no reports of forced displacement as a consequence of the violence in the area.
Nevertheless, Mayor Yolima Sinisterra said to be organizing a trip to the area to verify the status of more than 100 families that live there and could possibly see an escalation of violence after the air strike.
Future of the peace talks
Only hours before the military strike, the Colombian government and the FARC began a new round of talks in Havana, the 37th, in which they plan further discussion on reparations for victims of the conflict, a bilateral ceasefire and the eventual integration of the FARC into politics and civil society.
“Against our will, we have to continue the talks in the midst of the confrontation. Although Santos announces that he will keep the offensive, we insist on the need to agree, as soon as possible, for the health of the peace process and to prevent further victimization, on a bilateral ceasefire,” the rebels said.