Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos confirmed Thursday’s airstrike attack in Cauca Friday morning killed 26 FARC guerrillas, not 18 as was previously reported. In response, the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, announced the end to its unilateral cease-fire.
“Suspending the ceasefire wasn’t something we were considering … it was proclaimed Dec. 20, 2014, as a humanitarian gesture and to deescalate the conflict, but the incoherence of the Santos government has achieved this result, after five months of land and air offensives against our structures around the country,” a FARC representative stated.
The 26 FARC members were killed by an Colombian army attack on one of their bases. The raid was the deadliest confrontation since the FARC and the Colombian state began peace talks two years ago.
Peace coordinator Felix Antonio Muñoz Lascarro, alias “Pastor Alape,” condemned the attack on Twitter Thursday:
18 asesinados bajo la profunda noche y en pleno sueño, con bombas de 250 kilos sin oportunidad de combatir, es un acto aleve y degradante.— Pastor Alape (@AlapePastorFARC) May 22, 2015
“18 killed in the deep night and in the dream, with 250-kilo bombs without opportunity to fight, it's a treacherous and degrading act.”
La paz es el único camino contra la barbarie. No más muertes sin razón. Lo inteligente es la inteligencia de la paz.— Pastor Alape (@AlapePastorFARC) May 22, 2015
“Peace is the only way against barbarity. No more unjustified deaths. The intelligent way is the intelligence of peace.”
The Colombian Defense Ministry described the offensive as “the first major blow against the FARC since President Santos ordered the resumption of airstrikes against the guerrillas April 15.”
President Santos said the operation was a “forceful action against those responsible for the Gorgona attacks, drug trafficking, extortion and illegal mining.” He also appealed to the guerrilla army, which has been fighting for just governance and land reform since 1964, via Twitter:
Señores de las FARC: es hora de acelerar las negociaciones. ¡Cuántos muertos más necesitamos para entender que ha llegado la hora de la paz!— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) May 22, 2015
“Gentlemen of the FARC: it is time to speed up negotiations. How many more deaths do we need to understand it’s time for peace!”
Although the FARC declared a unilateral ceasefire last year amid peace negociations with the Colombian government, Santos ordered a resumption of strikes following an alleged rebel attack in April.