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Colombia confirmed its role in mid-1980s political killings

Colombia confirmed its role in mid-1980s political killingsColombian officials were responsible in the killing of thousands of members of a leftist political party three decades ago, President Juan Manuel Santos said on Thursday, claiming it won’t be repeated again.

The statement came ahead of signing a peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The FARC members were widely killed following a previous peace agreement in the mid-1980s when they formed the Patriotic Union (UP) political party.

Right-wing paramilitary groups, often working with state backing, had killed nearly 5,000 UP members and supporters.

"That tragedy should never have happened, and we must recognize that the government didn't take sufficient measures to impede and prevent the assassinations, attacks and other violations even though there was evidence the persecution was taking place," Santos said during an event where 200 survivors and family members of UP victims were present.

As part of the latest peace agreement with the Marxist FARC rebels, the government promised to guarantee them safety once they hand in their arms. The group plans to launch a political party and stand for office.

"I make the solemn commitment before you today to take all the necessary measures and to give all the guarantees to make sure that never again in Colombia will a political organization have to face what the UP suffered," Santos said.

On Monday, the FARC also apologized for kidnapping thousands of people to fund its half century of conflict with the government.
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