Colombia: Peace Talks Suspended Over General's Abduction

 / Updated 
Image: Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos speaks during a news conference in Bogota
Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos (C) speaks during a news conference in Bogota, November 16, 2014. Santos called off peace talks with Marxist FARC rebels late on Sunday, after the kidnapping of an army general. General Ruben Dario Alzate, who heads the Titan task force in the Pacific department of Choco, was captured on Sunday afternoon, with another military official and a civilian.HANDOUT / Reuters

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos has suspended peace talks with the rebel group FARC after an army general was taken captive - the first time in a half-century of fighting that the group has abducted an army general.

Calling it "totally unacceptable," President Santos ordered government peace negotiators who were set to travel Monday to Cuba for a round of peace talks to stay back until Gen. Ruben Dario Alzate and two others were freed. The general was surveying a rural energy project near a remote river in western Colombia Sunday when he and the others were taken away. A soldier who fleed said the captors were members of the 34th front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia), or FARC.

Alzate, a U.S.-educated general, had recently taken over a new group, the 2,500-man Titan Task Force, whose task is to combat rebels and drug-traffickers in the remote jungles surrounding Quibdo.

The kidnapping comes at a time of frustration over the 2-year peace talks amid the apparent refusal by the guerrillas to wind down attacks in areas where they are still dominant.

Santos is also demanding to know why the general apparently violated military protocol by setting on the river journey dressed as a civilian and without bodyguards.

The government has mounted a massive search and contacted the international Red Cross for help brokering the captives' release.

Image: Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos speaks during a news conference in Bogota
Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos (C) speaks during a news conference in Bogota, November 16, 2014. Santos called off peace talks with Marxist FARC rebels late on Sunday, after the kidnapping of an army general. General Ruben Dario Alzate, who heads the Titan task force in the Pacific department of Choco, was captured on Sunday afternoon, with another military official and a civilian.HANDOUT / Reuters

--The Associated Press

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