Sixteen alleged FARC guerrillas, including two minors, laid down their arms and turned themselves in to Colombian navy troops in the southwestern part of the country, the military said Tuesday.
The presumed members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, surrendered at a village near the city of Tumaco.
The military sources said that among the demobilizing rebels is a man known as "The Burro," who was the leader of the FARC units operating in the towns and villages near Tumaco, one of Colombia's Pacific ports.
Businessmen were the main victims of the group, who extorted them in exchange for allowing them to carry out their business activities in the area.
In addition to their weapons, the rebels also handed a boat over to the military.
The authorities will determine the background of each of the demobilizing fighters and then proceed to incorporate them into the programs offered by the Colombian government to rebels who lay down their arms.
The benefits provided to former rebels include psychological help, education and economic aid to help them begin sustainable productive activities, as well as training so that they can undertake new lives as part of Colombian society.
The minors will be placed in the custody of the Colombian Family Welfare Institute, a state-run agency tasked with helping the country's children.
Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon has said that some 1,200 guerrillas laid down their weapons last year.
The government of President Juan Manuel Santos, which has been pursuing peace talks with the FARC since late 2012, is pushing for the guerrillas to demobilize and has mounted a nationwide campaign to get them to cease their hostile activities and rejoin civilian life. EFE