Colombian troops join anti-crime army efforts to disarm left-wing rebels

Colombia to restart peace talks with insurgents ELN

Reuters, BH-LGA – Colombian soldiers detain members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) during a new joint anti-crime mission in Colombia September 6, 2014.

A man holds a portrait of the FARC rebel group during an anti-crime joint military patrol in this photo taken in La Carlota district of Colombia September 6, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Carlos Eduardo Perez

“We don’t want to see a dead body. We want to see a live body,” FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño told reporters on the Colombian side of the border.

Colombian troops on Sunday joined anti-crime army efforts to disarm the left-wing rebel group, which rebels have been fighting for more than half a century and which still claims up to 70,000 former FARC supporters.

The FARC claimed responsibility for Monday’s attempted attack on the Colombian army base in the town of La Libertad, some 130 km (80 miles) northwest of the capital, Bogota.

Ramon Bautista, the regional commander of the police, said the FARC’s attempt to blow up a bridge that connects La Libertad to Colombia’s main highway was thwarted by a bomb that failed to detonate.

Colombia’s Ministry of Public Security said the FARC had sent in 1,000 fighters, most of them in small, improvised vehicles, to set up a blockade on the border.

According to the latest figures available, there are more than 70,000 former FARC supporters in Colombia. However, officials believe that at present most of them are in the country’s mountainous border zone.

That zone includes the town of La Libertad, where the FARC attack of Tuesday began.

A military official said that while a total of 70 FARC units, two of which were on the Colombian side of the border, joined the anti-crime forces, only a small number had crossed over from the rebel-held zone and were attempting to attack the main Colombian army base.

In an attempt to persuade the FARC to disarm, the FARC began dismantling its weapons last month. But this week’s attack showed that, despite a pledge to cease hostilities, the rebels had not yet succeeded in doing so.

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