Top Colombian rebel killed in clash with police

March 21st, 2009 - 7:49 am ICT by IANS  

Bogota, March 21 (EFE) A senior member of Colombia’s second largest rebels group has been killed in a gun battle with police in western province of Tolima, Colombian Defence Minister Juan Manuel has said.
Javier Galvis Florez, identified as the chief of the Bolsheviks Bloc of the National Liberation Army (ELN), died in the gun battle occurred Thursday night in the mountains near Libano, about 120 km west of Bogota, the minister said Friday.

Galvis was a member of the rebel group’s high command.

Galvis was killed by the same police unit that eliminated his second-in-command a month ago, the National Police said in a statement.

Authorities said the US government had sought Galvis’ extradition in connection with the abduction of an American citizen in Colombia. The guerrilla was also wanted by Colombian courts on charges including murder and rebellion.

Thought to have fewer than 5,000 fighters, the ELN is around half the estimated size of the Andean nation’s biggest insurgency group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

For nearly two years, ELN representatives and government officials met sporadically in Havana to explore the possibility of a peace process, but those talks broke down in mid-2007.

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