Colombia military operation kills 10 FARC dissidents

Colombian army bombs a base housing dissidents from the former FARC rebel group in Calamar, southeast Colombia.

Molano did not say when the assault happened [Javier Casella/Courtesy Colombian defence minister/Handout via Reuters]

Bombing by the Colombian military has killed 10 and injured three at a base used by dissidents from the former FARC armed group in southeast Colombia, according to the minister.

Defence Minister Diego Molano said on Twitter on Tuesday the military action had “neutralised” 13 FARC dissidents under the command of a man who goes by the alias “Gentil Duarte”. He did not say when the assault happened.

A source told AFP news agency that 10 died and three were wounded.

The dissidents had distanced themselves from Colombia’s 2016 peace pact, which ended a half-century civil war and saw the then-FARC disarm the following year.

The bombing was conducted in the municipal area of Calamar in the jungle of southeastern Colombia, where former FARC dissidents still operate.

“These narco-criminals are responsible for the recruitment of minors, attacks against our public forces, kidnapping and illegal mining,” said Molano.

He added the government will “not rest” until it finds Duarte, one of the most wanted rebel commanders in Colombia.

Last Friday, the country launched a 7,000-strong elite force to fight rebels financed by drug trafficking and other illegal activities.

It said the force would pursue members of the ELN – the last active rebel group in Colombia – as well as drug gangs and ex-FARC rebels who have abandoned the peace terms.

In December, the UN said the Colombian government had killed 244 former FARC fighters since the signing of the peace accords.

Colombia continues to battle a multi-faceted armed conflict involving left-wing fighters, drug-traffickers and right-wing paramilitaries competing for control of the lucrative cocaine and illegal mineral extraction industries.

In February, President Ivan Duque accused Venezuela of “protecting” the remaining rebel fighters.

His counterpart Nicolas Maduro responded that his country would “respond with force” if Colombia’s new elite force or Duque “dared to violate the sovereignty of Venezuela”.

More than nine million people have died, disappeared or been displaced thanks to fighting against rebel forces in Colombia since the 1960s.

Source: News Agencies