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article imageColombia govt, ELN rebels announce demining plan

By AFP     Mar 30, 2017 in World

Colombia's government and the country's last active rebel force plan to start demining conflict areas, the armed group said Thursday.

The announcement by the National Liberation Army (ELN) came weeks after it launched peace talks with the government.

The ELN hopes that "by April 7 we can be organizing humanitarian demining activities in various regions," its chief negotiator Pablo Beltran said on Caracol Radio.

"There have been demands for that and we are going to listen. That is an agreement that will be reached in the negotiations."

Colombia ranks as the country with the second-biggest quantity of landmines after Afghanistan, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

The Colombian conflict erupted in 1964 and has drawn in various rebel and paramilitary groups and gangs as well as state forces.

Of the 260,000 people estimated by authorities to have died in the conflict, some 2,000 have been killed by landmines.

President Juan Manuel Santos says he wants a deal with the ELN to seal "complete peace" after signing an accord with the biggest rebel force, the FARC, in November.

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