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Millions of Colombians demand the FARC release hostages and disband

Unprecedented marches against rebels held after the murders of four people

Millions of Colombians took to the streets on Tuesday to demand that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which have terrorized their country for nearly 40 years, release all the remaining hostages they are holding and disband immediately.

In unprecedented demonstrations against the Colombian insurgency, the spontaneous marches were held following a national outrage over President Juan Manuel Santos' announcement that the FARC had murdered four hostages in cold blood a week earlier.

Despite the heavy rains in many parts of the country, Colombians from all walks of life marched in major cities with placards calling the FARC rebels "murderers" and demanding they release all their hostages. It is not known how many civilians are in the hands of FARC rebels but at least five military officials and six police officers have been held in captivity for between 12 and 14 years.

Taking part in the massive demonstration in Bogota was the country's conservative President Santos, who marched alongside the capital's leftist mayor Clara López.

Perhaps the most moving event during the nationwide protests was an address by 13-year-old Johan Stevens Martínez, whose father, army Sergeant Libio José Martínez, was one of the four murdered on November 26.

"I have already forgiven the FARC. Their punishment now is the burden in the conscience of knowing that they have killed so many innocent people."

Thousands march in Medellín on Tuesday to make their demands about the FARC heard.
Thousands march in Medellín on Tuesday to make their demands about the FARC heard.RAÚL ARBOLEDA (AFP)
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