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Colombian government and Marxist rebels sign accord ending 52-year war

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    Colombia's center-right government and the Marxist FARC rebel group signed a peace deal on Monday to end a half-century war that killed a quarter of a million people and once took the Andean country to the brink of collapse.

    The end of Latin America's longest-running war will turn the FARC guerrillas into a political party fighting at the ballot box instead of the battlefield they have occupied since 1964.

    Showing its support for the peace deal, the European Union on Monday removed the FARC from its list of terrorist groups.Kerry said Washington would also review whether to take the FARC off its terrorism list, and has pledged $390 million for Colombia next year to support the peace process.

    In the worst days of the war, attacks shook the capital, Bogota, which rebels threatened to overrun, and battles between the guerrillas, paramilitaries, drug gangs and the army raged in the countryside, parts of which remain sown with landmines.Thousands of civilians were killed in massacres, especially in rural areas, as the warring sides sought to prevent people from collaborating with or supporting enemy forces.

    Despite widespread relief at an end to the bloodshed and kidnappings of the past 52 years, the deal has caused divisions within Latin America's fourth-largest economy.Former President Alvaro Uribe and others are angry the accord allows rebels to enter parliament without serving any jail time.

    The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which began as a peasant revolt, became a big player in the cocaine trade and at its strongest had 20,000 fighters. Now, its some 7,000 fighters must hand over their weapons to the United Nations within 180 days.Colombians are nervous over how the rebels will integrate into society, but most are optimistic peace will bring more benefits than problems.

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