Colombia arrest warrants suspended for nine Segunda Marquetalia leaders

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visits Bogota

BOGOTA (Reuters) - The Colombian attorney general's office has suspended arrest warrants for nine leaders of the illegal armed group Segunda Marquetalia, it said on Thursday, as part of a process to start peace talks between the group and the government.

The decision is part of efforts by leftist President Gustavo Petro to end six decades of internal armed conflict that has left more than 450,000 dead.

The Segunda Marquetalia is a dissident faction of the now-demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The group initially signed a peace deal with the state in 2016, but returned to arms citing unfulfilled promises.

The two sides agreed to start a peace process in February.

However, the group's top commander, Ivan Marquez, was not included in the list. Though Marquez was reported dead last July, some local media later said he was still alive.

Petro's government is also holding talks with leftist guerrillas the National Liberation Army and with the Estado Mayor Central, another FARC faction that never accepted the 2016 peace deal.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Leslie Adler)