Colombian troops kill rebel blamed for 84 deaths

April 18th, 2012 - 12:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Bogota, April 18 (IANS/EFE) Colombian troops killed a rebel who was behind a 1998 attack on a fuel pipeline that left 84 people dead, the army said Tuesday.

Julian Artigas was killed Monday in the northwestern province of Antioquia near the scene of the explosion and fire that became known as the “Machuca massacre”, army commander, Gen. Sergio Mantilla, told reporters.

Another guerrilla was killed along with Artigas, the general said.

It was Oct 18, 1998, when a unit of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, blew up a fuel pipeline in Antioquia. Flames from the resulting blaze spread to the nearby village of Machuca, destroying 46 homes.

Eighty-four Machuca residents died and 30 were injured as a result of an attack that the ELN later described as a mistake.

Artigas left the ELN and later joined the ranks of the country’s largest insurgency, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Mantilla said.

The troops who killed Artigas and the other rebel seized two rifles, a handgun and other military gear, according to the army chief.

The FARC, founded in 1964, has an estimated 8,000 fighters and operates across a large swath of the Andean nation.

–IANS/EFE
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