FARC to release Colombian soldier captured before ceasefire

Bogota, Dec 26 (IANS/EFE) The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas announced Thursday that the humanitarian protocol has been begun for the release of a Colombian soldier captured Dec 19 in Cauca province.

The FARC announced that the humanitarian mission that will receive Carlos Becerra Ojeda will be comprised of representatives of the guarantor governments at the peace talks underway in Havana, Cuba and Norway as well as by International Red Cross officials.
Becerra Ojeda fell into the hands of the rebels after a clash the day before the unilateral ceasefire declared by the FARC went into effect.
Five Colombian soldiers were killed in the fighting, five more were wounded and Becerra Ojeda was listed as missing, but at the beginning of this week the army confirmed that he had been captured.
As the Colombian Army said at the time, the soldier was in the town of Santander del Quilichao along with the No.8 Infantry Battalion conducting military operations against a mobile column of the FARC when he was captured.
In its communique, the FARC said that its pending release of the trooper is “a new gesture of peace” and a “humanitarian act” given that he was wounded during the fighting.
“Respecting the life of a combatant who is captured during the fighting is not a violation of International Humanitarian Law,” the rebels added.
After Becerra Ojeda’s capture, the army had said that incidents of this kind “clearly infringe on International Humanitarian Law and flagrantly violate human rights.”
Last November, army Gen. Ruben Dario Alzate, a corporal and a civilian were captured by the FARC near the village of Las Mercedes, leading the government to suspend the peace talks in Havana.
–IANS/EFE
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