The Colombian government and FARC rebels signed a ceasefire and disarmament agreement, one of the last steps toward ending a half-century conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. The deal puts a definitive end to fighting in Latin America’s longest civil war, which has torn the country apart with shootings and bombardments in its coca-rich jungles and hills. President JuanManuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez shook hands and smiled after negotiators signed the deal at a ceremony in Cuba. The deal establishes “a bilateral ceasefire and end to hostilities and the definitive laying down of arms”. Disarmament will begin after the signing of a full final peace agreement, expected within weeks. Under the agreement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) must hand over its weapons to United Nations monitors within six months. The FARC’s members — an estimated 7,000 or so — will gather in “normalisation zones” for a demobilisation process. The sides also agreed to government action against “criminal organisations” blamed for fuelling the conflict. The United States congratulated Colombia.