Colombia frees first FARC rebels under peace process

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Bogota (AFP)

Colombia said Thursday it has freed 16 FARC guerrillas pardoned in peace negotiations with the leftist rebels, as the two sides move toward a deal to end their half-century conflict.

The jailed rebels, the first out of a group of 30 to be pardoned, were released in a goodwill gesture to reciprocate for the FARC's unilateral ceasefire, which has fostered "a reduction in violence and advances in the (peace) process," said the office of the government's high commissioner for peace.