In a historic shift, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) says it will no longer use kidnapping as a tool for political and financial gain. The FARC is the oldest armed group in the Americas, and has been kidnapping Colombian authorities and civilians for decades. On Sunday, the group said it would release its last remaining "prisoners of war" and stop kidnapping civilians "for financial ends."
President Juan Manuel Santos said on his Twitter account: “We value the FARC’s announcement that it is renouncing kidnapping as an important and necessary, if insufficient, step in the right direction."
The shift comes after three years of government success in weakening the group. Here are five of the defining moments:
Colombia forces scored what President Santos called an historic blow against the FARC with the killing of top leader Guillermo Leon Saenz, better known by his nom de guerre Alfonso Cano, on Nov. 4, 2011. Colombia’s forces bombed a hideout in a jungle in the southwestern province of Cauca, later rappelling down in helicopters to find Mr. Cano.
He was killed in a gun battle, officials say.
Cano joined the FARC in 1982, and in 1984 became part of the group’s seven-man leadership. He took over the head of the FARC in 2008 after the death of Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda.
"It is the most devastating blow that this group has suffered in its history," Santos told the nation on TV.
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