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    Thousands of Colombians Demand End to Kidnappings


    by NTDTelevision

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    Colombians hold a massive demonstration to protest hostage executions by the FARC rebel movement. The rebels are still detaining hundreds of civilians in their prison camps.

    Tens of thousands of Colombians protested across the nation on Tuesday to demand an end to guerrilla violence and kidnapping. They are outraged by the execution of four captives by FARC rebels.

    Luis Eladio Perez, Former Hostage]:
    "We have to tell the FARC that they lost the war, they lost militarily, they lost politically. No more FARC, we do not want more FARC and we want them (referring to the hostages) free and alive now."

    Protesters were dressed in white and marched toward the capital's main square, holding images of the murdered victims and chanting "No more war! Yes to life, yes to peace."

    [Viviana Duarte, Protester]:
    "Freedom is only in the soul because the body was chained. We, the family of my father are also chained, we are also hostages. My father had the right to be free."

    President Juan Manuel Santos, who backed the march, is facing increased pressure from Colombians to seek an end to the conflict that has killed tens of thousands over the decades.

    [Juan Manuel Santos, Colombian President]:
    "Release them now, without conditions, as a step. If there is really an intention to reach peace, as a step and a demonstration that there is an intention to have an agreement to reach peace."

    Santos is seeking a constitutional reform that may smooth the way for the FARC's secretariat to face shorter sentences if peace is reached and they confess their crimes and compensate their victims.

    FARC has been severely weakened in recent years with five of its seven-member secretariat killed or captured since 2008.

    The 8,000-strong FARC still holds 11 members of the armed forces in its prison camps and as many as 300 civilians.