Sun, Jan 03, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Colombian planes raid rebel camps: defense minister

AFP , BOGOTA

Colombian warplanes bombed two leftist rebel camps in the southern Meta region on Friday in a New Year’s Day raid that killed 18 rebels and resulted in the capture of 11 others, the country’s defense minister said.

In a separate incident, a soldier and a 14-year-old girl were killed in an attack by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the southwestern region of Huila, the military said.

Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva said the raid on the rebel camps in Meta were carried out by air force planes — which bombed the camps — and special operations forces on the ground.

“While Colombians celebrate the end-of-year holidays with their families, our soldiers maintain their commitment to confront narcoterrorism in the country’s jungles,” the defense minister said.

Silva said the operation was part of a response to the kidnapping and assassination of governor Luis Francisco Cuellar 10 days ago in the southern region of Caqueta.

Authorities also said that on New Year’s Eve, FARC guerrillas opened fire against an army patrol in the southwestern region of Huila, killing a soldier and a 14-year-old girl who was caught in the crossfire.

Four other people were hurt in the incident, a military spokesperson said.

The Colombian armed forces have offered a reward of US$15,000 for information leading to the capture of the perpetrators.

The FARC, which is thought to number 6,000 to 10,000 fighters, has been at war with the Colombian government for about 45 years.

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