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Colombian rebels pledge to stop civilian kidnappings, free captives

(Xinhua)

16:46, February 27, 2012

BOGOTA, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Colombia's largest rebel group says it will end its decades-long practice of kidnapping civilians for ransom and free its 10 remaining police and military hostages.

"We have often spoken about the kidnappings of men and women from the civilian population that we have carried out for financial reasons to help support our struggle," the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known as FARC, said in a statement Sunday.

The rebel group said it would outlaw the practice in its "revolutionary activity."

The announcement was seen by some as a move toward peace by the leftist insurgency.

However, it remained unclear about the time to release the hostages.

President Juan Manuel Santos said on his Twitter account that the Colombian government considered the FARC statement an important step, but that it was "not sufficient."

FARC was founded in 1964. Its top commander, Alfonso Cano, was killed in November during a military raid in the jungles of Colombia's southwestern Cauca province.

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