Ecuador warns Colombia over cross-border raid

March 23rd, 2008 - 4:52 pm ICT by admin  

Quito (Ecuador), March 23 (IANS) Ecuador has warned Colombia of grave consequences if it is found Bogota’s cross-border military operations against its leftist rebels had killed any Ecuadorian national, EFE reported Sunday. President Rafael Correa issued the warning on the radio Saturday after an Ecuadorian family claimed a photo showed the body of their slain relative next to that of Raul Reyes, a top commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

“It would be extremely grave if it is proved that an Ecuadorian died (in Colombian raid),” Correa said. “We will not let this murder go unpunished.”

Reyes was killed in a Colombian army operation in the Ecuadorian jungles across the border in an air raid March 1 in which 20 FARC rebels and several Mexicans were also killed.

Colombian authorities initially said the body transferred to Bogota along with Reyes’s was FARC leader Julian Conrado, but forensic experts confirmed the body belonged to some other person.

Following the revelation, Quito has announced investigation to determine whether the slain individual was Ecuadorian Franklin Aisalia.

The cross-border raid sparked a huge regional crisis earlier this month, with Ecuador and its close ally Venezuela severing diplomatic relations with Colombia and sending troops to their respective borders with the country.

Bogota subsequently said that files found on Reyes’ laptop - discovered at the camp - proved that the FARC had close ties with Ecuador and Venezuela.

Both Ecuador and Venezuela denied the claim and said Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was trying to divert international attention from the issue of border violation.

The crisis was resolved at the Rio Group summit in the Dominican Republic March 7 after regional leaders adopted a resolution that included Uribe’s apologies and a promise that his military would not violate another nation’s territory.

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