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Colombia Frees First FARC Rebels under Peace Process

Colombia said Thursday it has freed 16 FARC guerrillas pardoned in peace negotiations with the leftist rebels, as the two sides move toward a deal to end their half-century conflict.

The jailed rebels, the first out of a group of 30 to be pardoned, were released in a goodwill gesture to reciprocate for a unilateral ceasefire declared by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in July, said the office of the government's high commissioner for peace.

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Uprooted by War, Colombian Indigenous People Doubt Peace

When Delfina Wazorna thinks back on the home she left behind, she remembers machine guns, armed men and death threats.

It makes the Embera indigenous woman skeptical of the peace deal that Colombia's government and its main rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), have vowed to sign in the first three months of the new year.

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Demining Colombia Will Take 'a Generation', Says Minister

Clearing the landmines from the half-century conflict in Colombia, which has the most mines of any country outside Afghanistan, will take a generation, Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas says.

As the Colombian government and FARC rebels close in on a landmark peace deal, anti-personnel mines are one of the biggest problems facing the South American country in its post-conflict transition.

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Colombian Rebels Trade Jungle for YouTube

Until recently, Milena Reyes spent her days slogging around the jungle, dressed in combat fatigues and carrying an assault rifle.

The Colombian guerrilla fighter never imagined she would end up in front of a TV camera wearing make-up and high heels to present the first-ever news program by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on YouTube.

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FARC Rebels Free Kidnapped Soldier in Boost to Peace

FARC guerrillas freed Wednesday a Colombian soldier held by the Marxist rebels for two weeks, the defense ministry said, in a move that will inject fresh life into the peace process.

The release of Jesus Rojas came after the Red Cross intervened and is a timely boost to the peace talks between the government and rebels, with both sides vowing to reach a final deal by the end of March to end a five-decade conflict that has killed more than 220,000 people.

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Colombia Probing Syrian Islamist who Traveled to Paris

Colombia is investigating a Syrian woman with ties to radical Islam, who traveled to Paris ahead of the attacks on a stolen Israeli passport, sources at the state prosecutor's office said Thursday.

Seham Al Salkhadi left ahead of Friday's attacks on a direct flight from Bogota to the French capital's Charles de Gaulle airport, traveling under the name of Ashira Krieger, the sources said.

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Three Years on, Colombia Peace Talks near Finale

The peace talks to end five decades of conflict between the Colombian government and FARC rebels mark their third anniversary Thursday, with a deal tantalizingly close but still beyond reach.

Since they opened in Havana on November 19, 2012, the talks have produced partial deals on three out of six agenda items: land reform, political participation for the rebels and fighting the drug trafficking fueling the conflict in the world's largest cocaine-producing country.

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Colombian Army Kills Guerrillas, Gang Members

Six guerrillas and three drug gang members were killed in separate Colombian army operations, the defense ministry said Thursday.

The guerrillas were from the National Liberation Army (ELN), killed in an operation in the northeastern area of Bolivar.

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Colombian Peace Negotiators Vow to Speed Up Talks

With a key stumbling block in Colombia's peace talks now resolved, negotiators pledged Thursday to speed up the process and meet a six-month deadline for ending Latin America's last guerrilla conflict.

The timeframe was announced Wednesday by President Juan Manuel Santos and the leader of the leftist FARC rebel army, Timoleon Jimenez.

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Colombia's President, Rebels Announce Breakthrough in Talks

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the leader of the country's largest rebel group announced on Wednesday an important breakthrough in peace talks that sets the stage to end Latin America's longest-running armed conflict.

In a joint statement from Cuba, Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia said they have overcome the last significant obstacle to a peace deal by settling on a formula to punish belligerents for human rights abuses committed during a half century of bloody, drug-fueled fighting.

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