Colombian rebels have handed over almost all weapons

Cheryl Sanders
June 28, 2017

MESETAS, Colombia (AP) - Leftist rebels in Colombia have turned over nearly all of their fighters' individual weapons as part of a historic peace deal reached with the government previous year, the United Nations said in a statement Monday.

United Nations monitors "today stored away the entirety of the FARC's registered individual arms", except for some that were exempted for transitional security at demobilisation camps, the United Nations said in a statement.

The disarmament by the roughly 7,000 members of Colombia's biggest rebel group under a 2016 peace accord brings Latin America's oldest civil conflict close to a complete end.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC commander Timochenko will hold a formal ceremony marking the end of the fighting at one of those camps Tuesday.

A rebel of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, stands guard at the Mariana Paez demobilization zone, one of many rural camps where rebel fighters are making their transition to civilian life, in Buenavista, Co.

The accord was at first narrowly rejected by Colombians in a referendum previous year before it was redrafted and pushed through congress. "Today is a special day where we replace words where once there were weapons and I can say that because of this momentous day it has been worthwhile being the President of Colombia".

"The laying down of arms is a symbol of the new country that we can be". "What's more important is we are witnessing step after step the willingness of the FARC to really demobilize and reintegrate and that should be reinforced by the state and government in fulfilling the promises and agreements signed".

The conflict drew in leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitary groups and state forces.

The lay down is in compliance with the timeline agreed to between the Government and FARC-EP on 29 May, part of the historic deal that ended the half-century long conflict.

The last active rebel force, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has started talks with the government in Bogota, but has been blamed for continuing confrontations with state forces.

It kidnapped two Dutch journalists on June 19 and freed them five days later.

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