BOGOTA (AFP) - Colombia’s FARC guerillas confirmed on Tuesday that they are holding a missing general whose kidnapping caused the government to suspend peace talks aimed at ending the country’s 50-year-old conflict.
The talks, the most promising effort yet to end the longest-running conflict in Latin America, were thrown into crisis on Sunday when General Ruben Alzate was kidnapped with Corporal Jorge Rodriguez and army adviser Gloria Urrego as they travelled to visit a civilian energy project in the rural department of Choco.
In a statement posted on FARC’s website, the rebel group’s Ivan Rios unit claimed the kidnapping.
“Once they were clearly identified, despite wearing civilian clothes, the three were captured by our units, on the grounds that they are enemy military personnel, travelling in their official capacity, in an area of war operations,” said the statement, datelined from the Colombian mountains and written on Monday.
The FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) pledged to “respect (the hostages’) lives and physical and mental well-being.”
Alzate heads the army’s Titan task force, charged with fighting guerillas in the impoverished Choco region.
He is the highest-ranking officer to be captured by the FARC.
The kidnapping came as the peace process prepared to mark its two-year anniversary Wednesday.