BOGOTA, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) confirmed Tuesday that it has taken a Colombian general and two others hostage.
A FARC spokesman read a statement from Havana on Tuesday that defended the kidnapping of "enemy military personnel carrying out their functions in a war zone."
FARC announced in 2012 that it would cease abductions, but claimed that policy applied only to civilians and not to Colombia's military.
The group suggested it may hold some sort of trial for the general, who they say "owes a large debt to popular justice... Surely his case merits a lengthy examination in which many things will be need to balanced."
FARC peace negotiator Jorge Torres, who is also known as Pablo Catatumbo, applauded the capture of a high value military official. "We are talking about a general who is one of the most important generals to their concept of counter-insurgency."
Gen. Ruben Dario Alzate, Army Cpl. Jorge Rodriguez Contreras and civilian lawyer Gloria Urrego were abducted Sunday afternoon by armed men in the village of Las Mercedes near the provincial capital of Quibdo.
It is unclear why the general and his companions were in a known FARC area. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has demanded his defense minister explain why the general seemingly breached security protocols when he traveled to a rebel area as a civilian and without his bodyguards.
Santos suspended peace negotiations with the left-wing military group on Monday in response to the "completely unacceptable" kidnapping.
Torres, speaking from Havana, acknowledged that any negotiated release would be out of his hands. "The commanders who can solve this problem are in Colombia."
A massive search for the general, corporal and lawyer is underway.
The conflict between the government and the FARC began in the 1960s and is considered Latin America's longest running conflict. An estimated 220,000 people have been killed and three million internally displaced by the fighting.