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Colombia FARC rebels to free all "prisoners of war"

Colombia's main rebel group said it will free its remaining government captives and stop acts of kidnapping.

Colombia farc negotiate 2012 01 11Enlarge
Colombia has moved aggressively to combat the FARC rebels. (LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images)

Colombia's main rebel group said Sunday it is freeing the last of the government captives it has held for years, and will abandon the practice of kidnapping, the Associated Press reported.

The leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia said it will free its remaining 10 "prisoners of war." The government says the rebel group holds at least 12.

The announcement was made on the website of Anncol, a leftist news organization with alleged ties to the rebels. The group said it will continue its armed war with the Colombian state, but "resort to other forms of funding and political pressure."

The BBC reported the move comes three months after the FARC killed four hostages they had held for more than 12 years, which prompted massive protests against the rebels throughout Colombia.

The government has demanded the FARC free all its hostages in order to start peace talks.

More from GlobalPost: What's the fate of Colombia's negotiations with the FARC?

In late December, the rebels announced they would free six of the captives, but a month later said that they were delaying the release because of a government "militarization" of the area around the planned release. Neither the earlier statement nor the new one specified the location or set a date.

President Juan Manuel Santos responded on Twitter:  "My God, no more tricks and deception. We don't even know where the hostages are. They haven't provided the coordinates. Free them now!"

He did say the announcement is an important and necessary step in "the right direction" but "not enough."

The FARC was founded in 1964 and has been releasing captives since early 2008.

The AP reported Colombia does not have precise data on the number of kidnapped, but the anti-kidnapping police agency said that it had counted 255 through the first 11 months of 2011. It attributed 72 of those to the FARC.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/colombia/120226/colombia-farc-rebels-free-all-prisoners-war