Colombia’s guerrillas declare new ceasefire amid peace-talk pessimism

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Colombia’s largest guerrilla group on Wednesday called for a month-long unilateral ceasefire after weeks of increased violence have exacerbated fears that the country’s two-year peace process might be breaking down.

In a statement from Havana, where the talks are taking place, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, said the détente would begin July 20.

The FARC said they hoped the move would lead the government to declare a bilateral ceasefire — something the Juan Manuel Santos administration has refused to consider until the peace-pact has been finalized.

"We came to Cuba to reach a peace deal and put an end to this war that has lasted more than half a century," the guerrilla group said. "Nothing would make us happier than ending the confrontation definitively."

"We value the FARC’s gesture of a unilateral ceasefire," Santos wrote on Twitter. "But we need more, particularly concrete decisions to accelerate negotiations."

The guerrillas, considered a terrorist group by the United States and Colombia, had declared a unilateral and indefinite ceasefire in December. But that measure broke down after the FARC ambushed and killed 10 soldiers in April and Colombia’s Air Force resumed bombings, killing more than 20 guerrillas during a raid in May.

Since then the FARC have stepped up their sabotage campaign, blowing up oil pipelines and downing electricity towers. The uptick in attacks has soured the national mood and government negotiators admitted that pessimism was weighing on the talks.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.