Colombia's last rebel group begins truce

Rebels of Colombia's Marxist National Liberation Army (ELN) get off a boat after patrolling the river in the northwestern jungles of Colombia on Aug 30, 2017.  The initial ceasefire between the National Liberation Army rebels and government forces is
Rebels of Colombia's Marxist National Liberation Army (ELN) get off a boat after patrolling the river in the northwestern jungles of Colombia on Aug 30, 2017. The initial ceasefire between the National Liberation Army rebels and government forces is set to extend until Jan 9.PHOTO: REUTERS

BOGOTA (AFP) - After a half-century of armed struggle, the Colombian armed forces and the country's last guerrilla group, the ELN, began on Sunday (Oct 1) a historic, if possibly temporary truce.

The initial ceasefire between the National Liberation Army rebels and government forces, which began at midnight Saturday, is set to extend until Jan 9.

The truce is the most important achievement yet from peace talks carried out since February by negotiators for the rebels and the Colombian government of President Juan Manuel Santos in Quito, Ecuador, aimed at ending the longest armed conflict in the Americas.

"Starting at this moment, and as our Commander Nicolas Rodriguez said, the ELN will fully implement the bilateral ceasefire," the rebel group wrote on Twitter just after midnight Saturday.

Rodriguez earlier ordered his troops to "cease all types of offensive activities to fully comply with the bilateral ceasefire" starting at 0501 GMT Sunday.

The Colombian armed forces were also ordered to suspend operations against the guerrillas at the same time.

The larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas reached a peace deal with the Santos government last year.