Colombia confirms one Ecuadorian among dead in cross-border raidMarch 24th, 2008 - 2:03 pm ICT by admin
Bogota, March 24 (DPA) Colombia has confirmed that an Ecuadorian was among the more than 20 killed in a cross-border air strike against leftist Colombian rebels in Ecuador, an admission that is likely to further strain already tense relations between the two countries. Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos Sunday said that one of the bodies brought back to Bogota after the March 1 attack had been identified as an Ecuadorian citizen but warned Ecuador not to take any drastic action as a result.
“I have told President (Rafael) Correa and the Ecuadorian authorities to keep a watchful eye and to not be robbed of their good faith by a few criminals,” Santos told reporters here.
The controversial strike, which targeted Raul Reyes, the second-in-command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), prompted a serious crisis in relations between Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.
Both countries mobilised troops along their borders with Colombia and broke diplomatic ties, but the tensions appeared to have eased in the last two weeks amid reconciliatory moves from all sides at a summit in Rio de Janeiro and in talks at the Organisation of American States in Washington.
But Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa warned Saturday that the crisis could be reopened if it was confirmed that an Ecuadorian was indeed among the dead in the strike.
Santos again defended Colombia’s attack as “legitimate acts of war, legitimate acts in defence of democracy”.
Colombian commandos entered Ecuador’s territory after the initial air strike and retrieved the bodies of Reyes and another man initially identified as a FARC member known as Julian Conrado. Forensic examinations had now revealed the second man to be an Ecuadorian, Santos said.