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WAR REPORT
Santos condemns killing of indigenous leader
by Staff Writers
Ottawa (AFP) Oct 30, 2017


Colombia ceasefire with ELN holds despite killing: govt
Bogota (AFP) Oct 30, 2017 - Colombia's government said Monday it would maintain its ceasefire with the ELN guerrillas even though the group admitted violating the truce when it killed an indigenous leader last week.

"No incident in itself will cause the breakdown of the ceasefire unilaterally or automatically," the office of Colombia's High Commissioner for Peace said in a statement.

The "serious incident" would be investigated by a verification commission comprising the UN, Catholic Church and both sides involved in ongoing peace talks, it said.

The National Liberation Army, or ELN, Colombia's last active guerrilla group, acknowledged killing the indigenous governor Aulio Isarama Forastero in the northwestern department of Choco last week.

In a statement released Sunday, the group said it had been holding Isarama under suspicion of links with "military intelligence" and apologized to his family and loved ones for killing him.

It said he was killed after he attacked a guard "with the resulting tragic outcome."

Isarama's death was the first violation of the temporary ceasefire that went into effect on October 1 and is meant to last until January 9, as the Colombian government and ELN leaders hold peace talks in Ecuador's capital Quito.

The 1,500-strong ELN has been in negotiations with the government since February.

Government chief negotiator Juan Camilo Restrepo wrote on Twitter that the killing is "deplorable from every point of view and disappointing."

The ELN and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia's biggest guerilla group, were formed in 1964 to fight for land rights and to protect rural communities.

The conflict that raged for more than a half-century drew in leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitary groups and state forces and left 260,000 people dead, more than 60,000 missing and seven million displaced.

The ELN ceasefire came after a separate accord that saw the disarmament of the FARC.

The FARC has since launched a political party called the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force that will field candidates in next year's general elections.

Successful talks with the ELN would seal what Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos calls a "complete peace."

Visiting Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Monday condemned the killing of an indigenous leader last week by the ELN guerrillas in violation of its ceasefire with Bogota.

"Of course, we condemn the assassination as we would any assassination because to us life is the most precious thing," Santos told a joint press conference with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau.

Santos said the killing would be investigated by a verification commission comprising the United Nations.

As well, he added, "we will ask the regular authorities -- the prosecutor and the justice system -- to act as necessary."

The National Liberation Army, or ELN, Colombia's last active guerrilla group, acknowledged killing the indigenous governor Aulio Isarama Forastero in the northwestern department of Choco last week.

In a statement released Sunday, the group said it had been holding Isarama under suspicion of links with "military intelligence" and apologized to his family and loved ones for killing him.

It said he was killed after he attacked a guard "with the resulting tragic outcome."

Isarama's death was the first violation of the temporary ceasefire that went into effect on October 1 and is meant to last until January 9, as the Colombian government and ELN leaders hold peace talks in Ecuador's capital, Quito.

Canada, meanwhile, committed to have Canadian police officers train Colombian authorities in an effort to bolster the ceasefire.

"We've agreed to work together to establish a bilateral police initiative," Trudeau said.

"This effort will support post-conflict policing efforts in Colombia and will see Canadian police providing training, capacity building and strategic advice to our Colombian friends."

Some Can$78 million in aid will also be invested in youth, agriculture, human rights, mine clearing, and to support for the peace process.

"Canada's support has been determining," Santos said, noting 77 projects funded by Canada that are already under way.

WAR REPORT
US-led strikes claim another 51 civilian lives: coalition
Washington (AFP) Oct 26, 2017
An ongoing review of air and artillery strikes found another 51 civilians were killed by the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria, pushing the total toll to at least 786. In a statement Thursday, the coalition said that in September it completed an analysis of 127 reports of civilian deaths dating back to when international operations to defeat the Islamic State group got underway in late 2014 ... read more

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