Updated at: 07/22/2013 7:05 PM
(AP) BOGOTA, Colombia - Colombia’s main rebel group is offering to arm coca growers who have been blocking roads for more than a month in a turbulent northeastern region to demand a halt in coca eradication.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia made the offer in statement posted on its website Monday.
Over the weekend, the FARC killed 19 soldiers in the government’s biggest military setback since the two parties opened peace talks in November.
Colombian authorities claim rebels have already infiltrated the coca growers’ protest.
The FARC says that the peace talks to end its 49-year-old insurgency notwithstanding, "as long as the Colombian people are being abused, as they are today, an accord will be impossible."
One issue on the peace talks’ agenda is FARC assistance in dismantling Colombia’s drug trade.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)