Slain rebel leader killed by comrades: Colombia

March 8th, 2008 - 4:50 pm ICT by admin  


Bogota, March 8 (IANS) Colombia has claimed that a senior rebel leader of the country’s largest leftist insurgent group was slain by his comrades and not killed by government forces as reported earlier. Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos said Friday the government has “100 percent confirmed intelligence” that Ivan Rios, one of top seven leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was killed by his own comrades who were under intense pressure from the troops, Spanish news agency EFE reported Saturday.

The minister said a rebel known only by the name Rojas surrendered to the military authorities under intense pressure from the army.

Rojas also handed over to the authorities the severed right arm of Rios, his identity card, passport and personal computer, he said.

Rojas gave himself up on March 6 “to the troops that surrounded them in the rural area known as Albania near the town of Aguadas, Caldas province,” Santos told the press.

The guerrillas “were out of supplies and their communication network was also destroyed”, the minister said.

Rios’ death was the second significant loss to the FARC after the death last weekend of the outfit’s second highest leader Raul Reyes who was killed in his Ecuadorian jungle hideout in a cross-border operation by the Colombian army.

That incursion sparked a diplomatic crisis in the region, prompting Ecuador and Nicaragua to cut ties with Bogota and Venezuela to expel Colombian diplomats and move tanks and aircraft to its border with Colombia.

Rios and Reyes were parts of the FARC negotiating team during the fruitless 1998-2002 peace talks with the government of President Andres Pastrana.

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