Colombia suspends peace talks with FARC after general kidnapped

AFP| Updated: Nov 17, 2014, 12:11 PM IST

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Sunday suspended peace talks with the country`s largest rebel group, the FARC, as the military investigates the suspected abduction of a general.

"Negotiations with #FARC are suspended until the facts of the kidnapping of general (Ruben) Alzate are clarified," the Ministry of Defense said in a tweet citing Santos.

The decision to suspend the talks, which have been ongoing for two years, came during an emergency meeting between the president and the top military leaders that was called after the general`s disappearance was announced.

General Alzate lost contact with ground forces in Quibdo, in the southwest, where the FARC is active, the president had said earlier Sunday.

Santos ordered Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon to travel to the isolated Choco department town to lead the investigation into the presumed abduction.

"We demand that his captors (all signs point to the FARC) set him free as soon as possible, and safe and sound," Santos had said on Twitter.

Founded in 1964, the FARC today counts about 8,000 fighters and is the largest of the guerrilla groups waging Latin America`s longest-running armed conflict.

The FARC is currently locked in dialogue with Colombian government negotiators attempting to broker a peace deal to end the five-decade-long fight.

The talks, which began in 2012, are days away from marking their second anniversary, and had so far made more progress toward ending the conflict than any previous peace effort. 

There has not been an accompanying bilateral ceasefire during the negotiations.

However, in 2012, the rebel group pledged to no longer kidnap civilians for ransom. The guerrillas reserved the right to take police and soldiers captive, considering them prisoners of war.