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Colombia rebels to halt kidnapping

BOGOTA - Colombia’s main rebel group said yesterday it is abandoning the practice of kidnapping and will soon free its last remaining “prisoners of war,’’ 10 security force members held for as long as 14 years.

The leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, announced on its website that it would no longer kidnap civilians “for financial ends.’’

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It was the first time the rebels have unequivocally renounced a tool they have long employed against Colombia’s well-heeled.

It is not clear whether an order has been given to release ransom-kidnapping victims currently held by the rebels, whose number is not known.

The FARC did not provide a date for the liberation of the 10 security force members, two fewer than the government says it holds.

Yesterday’s announcement could advance prospects for a peace dialogue sought by the rebels.

The government has insisted the FARC end all kidnappings as a minimal first step.

But the rebels did not say that they were was abandoning hostilities.

The FARC has recently stepped up hit-and-run attacks, and the military blames it for bombings and mortar attacks on two police posts in the past month that killed 15 people and wounded nearly 100, most of them civilians.

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