Colombia rebels free captured general

General Ruben Dario Alzate, who was captured two weeks ago, is freed along with a captain and an attorney.

Colombia’s main rebel group has freed army General Ruben Dario Alzate, who was captured two weeks ago.

President Juan Manuel Santos tweeted the general and his two companions had been released by the FARC to the ICRC and representatives of Cuba and Norway and they were in good condition. 

According to the ICRC, the general and the other officials have been flown to an army base in the city of Medellin and are in good health. They are expected to be flown to the capital Bogota later in the day.

FARC rebels release Colombian general

Santos had suspended two-year-old talks with the rebels after the general, a captain and an attorney were seized in western Colombia on November 16.

The release of the general should revive peace talks between the rebels and Colombia’s government that are being held in Cuba.

Alzate was the first general to be taken by the rebel group in a half-century of fighting.

‘Prisoners of war’

Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti said that there was no clear idea as to when the negotiators would travel back to Havana to resume the talks but that the release could help with its progress.

“The FARC said they going to leave them [the captives] as a gesture of goodwill,” he said.

On Thursday, the FARC objected at the use of the word “kidnapping” to describe the general’s capture.

It considers its captives “prisoners of war” taken in the absence of a ceasefire.

Fidel Rondon, FARC commander and peace negotiator, told the AFP news agency on Thursday in Havana that the group was guaranteeing the release of the three and objected to the fact that the government was not freeing captured rebels in return.

“Jailed guerrillas rot in prison with war wounds sustained during their capture,” said Rondon.

With an estimated 8,000 fighters, the FARC is the largest rebel group active in the conflict.

Notes from the field:

Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti in Bogota, Colombia

The release of General Ruben Alzate was widely anticipated but complicated by conditions on the ground and the rainy season in the jungle area of Choco where he was captured on November 16 with two other officials.


FARC rebels sent one of their top negotiators, Pastor Alape to Choco to facilitate the release. This shows the will of the FARC to solve the crisis. The general was handed over to the ICRC and a commission of the Cuban and Norwegian goverments that are guarantor countries.

Al Jazeera has been able to confirm that Colombia’s peace negotiators will travel back to Havana on Monday and will meet with FARC negotiators, but it’s not clear when the talks will actually resume.

FARC negotiators say they will need to “redraw the rules of the game” after Colombian president suspended talks with the rebels after the general’s capture. They think that President Santos’ decision was “hurried”.

The FARC will try to ask again for a bilateral ceasefire but will not get it. But we know the sides are discussing the possibility to scale back fighting in specific areas. The FARC will probably try to achieve that now.

Follow on Twitter: @rampietti

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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