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Colombian government and ELN rebels agree ceasefire

Colombian government and ELN rebels agree ceasefire

The ELN has been engaged in armed conflict since 1964
Negotiators from the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group say they have agreed a temporary ceasefire with the Colombian government.It is the first time the two sides have agreed a ceasefire in more than 50 years of conflict.The announcement comes less than 48 hours before the Pope is due to visit Colombia.The length of the ceasefire has not been confirmed yet.The announcement was made by the rebel group in a tweet, which reads: "Yes we could! We thank all of those who backed our efforts to reach this #BilateralCeasefire."
Skip Twitter post by @ELN_Paz
?Si se pudo! Agradecemos a todas y todos quienes apoyaron decididamente los esfuerzos para alcanzar este #CeseAlFuegoBilateral pic.twitter.com/DVUqcqLGmJ— ELN Paz (@ELN_Paz) September 4, 2017
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End of Twitter post by @ELN_Paz
Colombian media report that the ELN rebels have agreed to cease all violence against civilians, including kidnapping and extortion, as well as recruiting children and laying mines.The government in turn reportedly has agreed to improve the conditions of jailed ELN rebels and to boost the security of activist leaders, a growing number of whom have been killed in recent months.
ELN peace talks: What are the challenges?
The two sides are due to make an announcement at 16:00 GMT in the Ecuadorean capital, Quito, where they have been holding peace talks since February.The negotiations started just months after the Colombian government and Colombia's biggest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), signed a peace deal.The Farc has since become a political party. The ceasefire between the smaller ELN and the government was reportedly reached after all-night negotiations.The ELN is believed to have fewer than 1,500 active fighters, according to intelligence reports seen by Colombian media.They are backed up by a larger number of "militants" or sympathisers who provide logistical support and back-up.Its strongholds are in rural areas in the north and on the border with Venezuela, and also in the provinces of Casanare, Norte de Santander and Cauca.Negotiations have at times proved frustrating for the government, which has demanded that the group stop kidnapping people. The ELN finances its operations mostly with the ransom paid to release hostages.On the weekend, the ELN revealed that it had killed a Russian-Armenian hostage it was holding back in April.
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