Colombian rebels have confirmed that they have captured a Colombian army general, whose disappearance on Sunday led the government to suspend two-year-old peace talks with the armed group taking place in Havana.
In a news conference on Tuesday, members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) group said that Ruben Dario Alzate was captured at a “mobile checkpoint” on Sunday.
The group blamed the situation on the government for its insistence on negotiating without a ceasefire.
“These are the rules of the game,” FARC said.
The group said they hoped the talks can restart soon and called for a bilateral ceasefire to make sure similar incidents would not happen again.
Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from Bogota, said: “FARC basically said that one of their divisions, their mobile checkpoint units, actually stopped the general and detained him.
“They said this is not a kidnapping in the words of the FARC, they say that this is simply a normal act of war.
“They said that this general, the civilian lawyer and the other lower ranking army official were simply in a conflict zone and they were captured in a normal act of war.”
The Bogota government halted the talks immediatley after the incident and dispatched troops by air, river and land to search the region where the general went missing.
President Juan Manuel Santos demanded that FARC immediately release Alzate, saying the resumption of suspended talks to end the half-century-old conflict depended on it.
Santos has staked his presidency on peace talks seeking to end Latin America’s longest-running rebellion, in which 200,000 people have died.
In a previous statement, Santos said that Alzate and another captured officer violated security protocols and were dressed as civilians, and that they were captured upon disembarking on a river near the city of Quibdo to visit an energy project.