Colombia's President Gustavo Petro attends a press conference with members...

Colombia's President Gustavo Petro attends a press conference with members of UN Security Council after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Bogota, Colombia, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. President Petro on Sunday, March 18 2024, suspended a ceasefire with one of a handful of armed groups with which he hoped to negotiate peace accords, saying its fighters violated the truce by attacking an Indigenous community. Credit: AP/Fernando Vergara

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombian President Gustavo Petro on Sunday suspended a ceasefire with one of a handful of armed groups with which he hoped to negotiate peace accords, saying its fighters violated the truce by attacking an Indigenous community.

The government said that starting Wednesday it would resume military operations against Estado Mayor Central, a group of fighters who broke away from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia when it signed a peace pact in 2016.

Indigenous leaders in the war-torn western region of Cauca said an attack by the dissident group Saturday wounded at least three people and a young student was taken away by force.

In a post on the X platform, Petro said group was “violating the ceasefire agreement,” adding that he believed it used peace negotiations as a cover to “strengthen itself militarily.”

The suspension of the ceasefire was a political blow to Petro, a former rebel who became Colombia’s first leftist leader promising to consolidate “total peace” in a country long ravaged by armed conflict.

He has sought to rewire the way the country grapples with its decades of conflict, by addressing the poverty that underlies the unrest while simultaneously negotiating peace with armed groups to minimize bloodshed. Yet conflict continues to rage in many rural swaths of the South American nation.

With implementation of the FARC accord's provisions lagging, a growing number of former rebels have rearmed against the government, joining a toxic slate of drug gangs and and guerrilla groups to war for power.

A report by a United Nations agency warned Friday that more than 8 million people in Colombia need humanitarian help, mainly because of the expansion of the country's armed conflict.

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