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  • Landmine warning sign in Antioquia, March 3, 2015

    Landmine warning sign in Antioquia, March 3, 2015 | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 March 2015

Rebels say that while they will start this process in several territories, explosives will still be used for self-defense.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia said Sunday that process of clearing landmines will consist of several stages, starting with a "humanitarian" demining.

Speaking before the start of a new round of peace talks in Havana, FARC spokesperson Ricardo Tellez said the process will start in several territories, but the rebels will still use explosives for self-defense, especially in light of the government’s refusal to enter into the cease-fire called by the guerrilla group.

"We will choose three or four territories, but the demining process at this stage will be humanitarian, so our people in the jungle will not stop defending themselves," said Tellez, who added that all explosive remnants will be removed.

The announcement comes as a result of agreements made at the peace talks, which the rebel group and the government of President Juan Manuel Santos have been engaged since November 2012 in an effort to end more than 50 years of armed conflict in the South American nation.

RELATED: The Colombian Peace Process Explained

Tellez added that the demining process will be carried out in areas where civil population is directly affected; however he highlighted that the compliance with the agreement is "a very critical problem" because they do not know the exact location of the mines and some of the people who placed them may be dead.

The mine clearance deal was reached early this month and the Humanitarian Demining Battalion has assumed responsibility for carrying out the endeavor with the support of the guerrillas. According to international organizations, Colombia is one of the countries in the world most affected by landmines, with more than 11,000 people injured or killed by landmines in the country over the past 15 years.

Meanwhile, partial agreements have been reached at the peace talks on three of the five agenda points, including land reform, an end to the illegal drugs trade, and political participation for the left-wing guerrillas.

Discussions on reparations for victims, as well as the demobilization of combatants, are ongoing and remain unresolved.


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