FARC rebels hand in more than half arms in Colombia

FARC rebels hand in more than half arms in Colombia

LA ELVIRA (Colombia) (AFP) - Colombia's Marxist FARC rebels on Tuesday said they have handed over 60 percent of their weapons to UN officials as part of a deal to end a half-century of war.

The final 40 percent of weapons, to be stored at 26 points around the South American country, are due to be surrendered on June 20.

"Demobilization is being achieved at a very fast rate," President Juan Manuel Santos said to mark a ceremony in La Elvira, Cauca department. Bad weather kept him from attending in person.

The peace accord was reached in August of last year but Colombian voters rejected it by a narrow margin in a referendum a few months later. Some argued the accord went too easy on the rebel force.

Santos and FARC leaders then drafted a new version before the government pushed it through Congress.

The Colombian conflict erupted in 1964 when the FARC and the ELN -- a smaller rebel group -- took up arms for rural land rights.

The violence drew in various rebel and paramilitary forces and drug gangs as well as state forces.

The conflict has left at least 260,000 people dead and displaced more than seven million, according to the authorities.

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