Colombian rebels desert group after drugging commanders

February 25th, 2009 - 4:16 am ICT by IANS  

Bogota, Feb 25 (IANS) Fifteen rebels of Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) have deserted the group after drugging their commanders with a sleep-inducing plant in the deep jungles of the country’s southwestern Narino province, EFE reported.
The incident took place last week in the Barbacoas area along the Pacific coast.

The rebels rubbed the Dormilona plant on the beds of their commanders, who after inhaling the scent from the plant fell into a deep sleep, the report said Tuesday.

They walked for two days in the jungles before they could surrender themselves to the Colombian Army’s 3rd division.

A woman rebel who planned the escape said the Dormilona plant’s smell, which grows in the Colombian jungles, can put people into deep sleep. She added that they needed about eight hours to make a good lead to avoid being caught.

The rebels are now eager to join a government rehabilitation programme that offers financial, medical, security and other assistances to the insurgents who surrender.

According to a government estimate released last week, since 2002, some 50,000 right-wing militiamen and leftist guerrillas have surrendered to the authorities.

The ELN has fought for four-decades against a succession of Colombian governments.

Several attempts by the government to reconcile with the group have failed.

The ELN, with some 5,000 cadres, is the country’s second-largest guerrilla group after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

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