The Colombian government has pledged to resume bombing rebel hideouts after Marxist fighters killed 10 soldiers this week, an unwelcome development for the country’s economy, which had just show its ability to weather the economic storm sweeping across the region.
The government says 17 soldiers were also injured, four of them seriously, in the attack in the western province of Cauca, a FARC stronghold.
It is unclear why the rebels suddenly violated the ceasefire, but a FARC spokesperson stated that the incident would not have happened had the soldiers stopped hunting for rebels in remote regions of the country.
FARC rebels have been fighting for the imposition of communist rule for several decades, but they had recently agreed to participate in electoral politics and help to remove the many land mines that litter the countryside.
The left-wing guerrilla group declared unilateral ceasefire in December and in recent peaces negotiation in the Cuban capital of Havana they even agreed to halt the drug production that funds their activities.
The latest ambush saw the rebels attack soldiers with grenades and gunfire in a remote village. It has angered the government, which is talking of avenging the killing of soldiers.
A truce with the FARC is seen as crucial for Colombia to boost its economy, which has relatively remained healthy despite a significant drop in oil production, one of the key growth engines of the country.
If the rebels lay down their arms, the government could launch land reforms, which would bolster the economy significantly. Moreover, a peaceful Colombia would draw more foreign investment, which is reported to have declined recently.