Colombia deals FARC another deadly blow

Thirty-two FARC fighters killed in fresh attack, bringing this week's total to 65 killed in new government offensive.

    New Colombian military strategy focuses on destroying key armed and financial units of the FARC [Reuters]

    Colombian troops have killed 32 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels in a remote jungle region, President Juan Manuel Santos said.

    Monday's killings in central Colombia mark the second blow to the drug-funded group in less than a week.

    "This shows that our armed forces continue their offensive and are not going to stop," Santos said during a meeting of
    security officials in the provincial city of Villavicencio.

    The dawn attack in the  province of Meta takes the total number of FARC rebels killed by the armed forces to 65
    after an attack last Wednesday killed 33 rebels who were resting in the northern plains region of Arauca.

    The operations form part of a new military strategy to fight the nation's largest rebel group by destroying their key armed and financial units, marking a shift from the previous focus of tracking down and killing their leaders.

    Billions of dollars in US military aid have helped Colombia lead a military offensive that has killed off top leaders of the group and pushed them further into isolated mountain and jungle regions.

    Still formidable

    The FARC's fighting force has dropped by close to half to about 8,000 in the past decade and many of the group's key
    commanders and founding members are dead.

    The new strategy focuses on using intelligence to track down specific battle units and choke off their sources of financing, which include drug trafficking, illegal metals mining and extortion.

    The group said last month it would abandon its decades-long policy of kidnapping for ransom and free military and police
    hostages it holds in jungle camps.

    The liberation is expected to begin at the start of April.

    But the FARC, Latin America's longest-running rebel group, remains a formidable force and continues to attack towns and oil installations in efforts to weaken industries such as mining and energy that have helped Colombia's economy grow.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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