Denis Foynes – President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia has ordered the national army to “not stop shooting” at the FARC until the conflict is finished.
The strong statement comes after 19 soldiers were killed by the terrorist group in a single day. It was the biggest blow to the military since peace dialogue began in November.
On Saturday, in the Arauca state on the Venezuelan border, 26 soldiers were guarding an oil pipeline when they were suddenly ambushed by around 70 FARC rebels. The Colombian authorities have stated that 15 government soldiers died in the attack. Meanwhile, 6 rebels were killed, and 12 captured by the army.
On the same day, four soldiers were killed in combat in the town of Doncello in the southern state of Caqueta, a traditional stronghold of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
The attacks fell on the country’s Independence Day.
The peace talks are on-going since November and are the fourth attempt at a negotiated peace deal since the beginning of the conflict in the early 1960s.
The last effort to achieve peace collapsed in 2002, when it was revealed that the rebels had become stronger during the more than three years of negotiations under a ceasefire.
The FARC have been battered by the military in recent years and are thought to only have some 8,000 fighters, down from about 16,000 in 2001. Therefore, many experts believe this is the best chance to achieve peace in decades.
Last week, the FARC’s chief peace negotiator stated that the conflict was approaching its end. However, he warned about rushing into a deal.