Colombian authorities seize uranium, explore rebel links

March 28th, 2008 - 4:13 pm ICT by admin  

Bogota, March 28 (IANS) The Colombian government has seized 30 kg of uranium suspected to have been sought by the country’s leftist insurgent group FARC, EFE news agency reported Friday. “The uranium was found Wednesday in Pasquila district on the highway leading to San Juan de Sumapaz,” a defence ministry statement said.

The radioactive material was found following a joint operation by the police and the army. The area is known to be an important base of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Colombian scientists confirmed that it was uranium.

The operation was launched after two informants March 20 handed over to the military a small packet containing the material and told them that according to the information on the computer of FARC’s slain leader Raul Reyes, the uranium had been acquired by the insurgent group.

Reyes, the group’s second-in-command, was killed along with 23 guerrillas in a raid March 1 by the Colombian Army in Ecuadorian jungles across the border.

The FARC denied March 19 it possessed uranium and said it did not have the knowhow to process it for making a crude radioactive explosive device commonly known as “dirty bomb”.

Meanwhile, the head of the Colombian armed forces, Gen. Freddy Padilla de Leon, said Wednesday the uranium did not belong to the FARC but was in the possession of a man called Belisario, whose name was found in Reyes’ computer.

The find is the second by Colombian authorities since March 2006, when the military intelligence seized more than 13 kg of uranium in an office in north-central Bogota.

Two people were arrested in that operation and the military said the material “was being offered to the highest bidder”.

Uranium in its natural state is a heavy metal that is slightly radioactive because of the trace presence of a rare isotope. When highly refined, it can be used for both generating power and making an atom bomb.

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