President Uribe is raising a rural militia by providing weapons, training and a small salary for 15,000 men in areas that have populations that are neutral or pro-government. Volunteers would now have a better chance of keeping FARC out of their villages.
The government has accused FARC of using chemical weapons (cyanide gas) in an attack in the south last September that killed four soldiers and left six other with lung problems. This was based on analysis of material from the site done by the US Department of Defense.
FARC rejected a government offer to use UN mediators to negotiate an end to four decades of fighting. FARC insists that they be given control of several provinces in the south and no longer be identified as a terrorist organization.