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In peace deal move, former Colombian rebel group FARC admits abducting tens of thousands of people during conflict

In peace deal move, former Colombian rebel group FARC admits abducting tens of thousands of people during conflict
The leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a disbanded rebel group, have admitted responsibility for tens of thousands of kidnappings during the long-running conflict with the government and security forces.

Carlos Antonio Lozada, a former member of the guerrilla group, said on Friday that FARC “clearly assumes responsibility for kidnappings which took place.”

He told a news conference that the group “explicitly recognizes the suffering inflicted unjustifiably on victims … their families, friends and of course all of Colombian society.”

FARC disarmed and rebranded as the ‘Comunes’ political party after striking a ceasefire agreement with the government in 2016. Under the deal, ex-rebels have to hand over information about crimes committed during the conflict to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace tribunal, which can secure them lesser sentences.

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According to tribunal counts, 21,396 people were kidnapped or taken hostage by FARC between 1990 and 2015.

The Marxist-Leninist group was set up in 1964 to demand more equitable land ownership during the government’s long-running conflict with armed insurgents.

At its peak, the largely rural organization counted as many as 20,000 people among its ranks, but its numbers had dwindled to a few thousand by the time of its peace deal with the government.

FARC’s tactics included blowing up oil pipelines and other infrastructure, as well as kidnappings, and members of the group also used sexual violence, including against women and minors forced to join the insurgency.

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