Colombia’s Farc rebels kill four military hostages

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebels executed four members of the security forces during a botched mission to free them from a decade as hostages, the most violent act by the group since troops killed its leader Alfonso Cano this month.

Farc, which has a policy of killing hostages if troops approach their camps, shot three of the captives in the head and the fourth in the back, President Juan Manuel Santos said.

The bodies were found in chains, he said.

“These heroes of Colombia sacrificed their lives trying to bring peace to Colombia,” Santos said. “This is another demonstration of the Farc’s cruelty … It’s an atrocious crime.”

One police sergeant who was also being held hostage by the Farc managed to escape and was found alive by the military on Saturday, Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón said.

Latin America’s number four oil producer has been wracked by bloodshed from guerrillas and cocaine barons for decades, although the Farc — once a powerful force controlling large parts of Colombia — has been severely weakened.

Santos said on Thursday the Andean nation was nearing the final phase of nearly 50 years of war and that his government would be willing to talk peace if the guerrillas were serious.

‘Reality shock’
Troops launched the operation in southern Caquetá province 45 days ago after a tip that Farc captives were being held in the area, Pinzón told a news conference. The killings of the four hostages happened after a fire-fight between soldiers and the rebels.

“This is a reality shock,” said security analyst Alfredo Rangel. “It shows that despite all the hits they have received in recent years that they are determined to fight the state, they are determined to continue their violent ways.”

Bombings and kidnappings have eased sharply as Colombian troops use better intelligence, US training and technology to take the fight to the rebels.

Foreign investment, especially in oil and mining, has surged as the insurgency weakens. But the Farc and other groups pose a threat in rural areas where the state’s presence is weak and cocaine trafficking lets the rebels finance operations.

The Farc, considered a terrorist group by European nations and the United States, has lost key commanders in the past four years, including its founder Manuel Marulanda, military leader Mono Jojoy last year and Cano earlier this month.

A great Christmas
The new leader Timoleón Jiménez — or Timochenko — has vowed to continue the fight against the government.

“What a great Christmas the Farc guerrillas have given the families of the police and military,” said Marleny Orjuela, director of Asfamipaz, an association that represents families of kidnapped members of the armed forces.

“Santos has killed our hope, rescuing them when he knows they would be executed.”

The Farc, which funds operations with extortion as well as drug trafficking, has held scores of politicians, police officers and soldiers as hostages, including French-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt seized in 2002 and three Americans taken a year later.

They were rescued by the military in 2008, when Santos was defence minister.

This was the third group of hostages killed by the Farc.

In 2003, Guillermo Gaviria, governor of Antioquia province, was shot along with an adviser and eight military captives when troops attempted to free them. In 2007, 11 lawmakers were shot when the rebels falsely believed troops entered their camp. — Reuters

Advertisting

Hlophe complaint is an eerie echo

But the new complaint against the Western Cape judge president is also unprecedented

Mabuza contract grows by R10m

Eskom’s negotiators in a R100-million maintenance contract came back with a proposal to push up the costs

‘There were no marks on his neck’, Neil Aggett inquest...

The trade unionist’s partner at the time he was detained at John Vorster Square says she now believes his death was not a suicide
Advertising

Press Releases

Boosting safety for cargo and drivers

The use of a telematics system for fleet vehicles has proved to be an important tool in helping to drive down costs and improve efficiency, says MiX Telematics Africa.

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.