Colombian guerrillas to maintain cease-fire after attack

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– FARC reiterates call for bilateral cease-fire days after massacre of Colombian soldiers.

BOGOTA, Colombia — FARC said Monday it will maintain its unilateral cease-fire despite an order by Colombia’s president to resume bombing guerrilla positions.

“We reiterate the decision taken in December 2014. We will maintain the indefinite unilateral cease-fire in place so long as we are not the object of permanent siege by the military. It must be understood that there are offensive actions taken which are generated under the premise of legitimate defence,” said FARC spokesperson Ivan Marquez at a press conference in Havana where the dialogues have been ongoing between militants and the Colombian government since November 2012.    

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, have maintained that it will act only in self-defence but last week’s massacre of soldiers in the southwestern department of Cauca has caused widespread international and national outrage.

“The FARC has reneged on its own word and has severely damaged the group’s credibility,” said chief government negotiator Humberto de Calle.

The attack left 11 soldiers dead in the single deadliest assault since peace dialogues began between the two sides.

While it laments “the tragedy of the deaths of the soldiers,” FARC said it will reconstruct the events of April 14 to determine what happened but insists the government “should maintain their cool” and consider a bilateral cease-fire.

“The best thing that President (Juan Manuel) Santos and his government can do is to calmly and patriotically study a possible bilateral cease-fire without delay,” the group said in Monday’s communiqué.

Peace talks have reached agreements on the issues of agrarian reform, political participation and illegal drugs, but the attack on the soldiers has brought the discussions under increased criticism and scrutiny.

Santos was heckled Sunday as he called for “unity, not division” at the opening of an event in Bogota.

Comombia’s Attorney General Alejandro Ordonez, a staunch critic of the peace dialogues, said on Monday that “the FARC has cheated the president and the peace negotiators.”