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Mediators want 'urgent de-escalation' in Colombia

Update: July, 08/2015 - 11:00

HAVANA — Four countries supporting peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC rebels called on Tuesday for an "urgent de-escalation" of armed conflict, as 1,200 terrified indigenous people fled more heavy fighting.

The appeal comes after clashes resumed in mid-April, following an ambush by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that left 11 soldiers dead.

Each side blames the other for the escalation.

"We urge the parties to strictly restrict any actions that cause victims or suffering in Colombia, and to step up the implementation of confidence-building measures," Norway representative Idun Aarak Tvedt said in a statement to journalists.

"We consider these steps to be essential in order to guarantee the conditions for and create a climate conducive to achieving agreement."

Cuba and Norway are acting as so-called "guarantor" countries in the peace talks that began in November 2012 in Havana. Chile and Venezuela are "escort" countries.

Despite the appeal two soldiers were killed, two wounded and a fifth reported missing in southern Colombia on Tuesday following attacks that were believed to have been carried out by the FARC.

Separately, about 1,200 people in an indigenous community in the north-west fled their homes in the face of renewed fighting in the rural area, said a statement from the Indigenous Organisation of Antioquia.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, on Twitter, welcomed the four countries' appeal.

Despite the renewed bloodshed the Colombian government said for the first time Saturday that it was potentially open to a bilateral cease-fire.

So far, the two sides have agreed on three points of a six-point agenda for the faltering peace process. — AFP

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