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No. 2 Colombian rebel killed, government says

(CNN) — Colombian forces on Saturday killed the second in command of the country’s main rebel group, a strike the government said was the most significant yet.

Luis Edgar Devia Silva, known as Raul Reyes, died in a joint operation conducted by Colombian national police and military forces, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said.

The fighting took place just across the Ecuadorean border, he said.

Reyes was among 17 killed, Santos said.

Also killed was Guillermo Enrique Torres, called Julian Conrado, who Santos said was a key ideologist for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

The bodies of the two were in the hands of Colombian authorities, Santos said.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe had spoken to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa to inform him about the situation, Santos said.

Colombian air forces attacked a FARC camp from the Colombian side of the border, Santos said, adding that Colombia did not violate Ecuadorean airspace.

There was no immediate reaction from FARC to the death of Reyes, The Associated Press reported.

Reyes was a member of the seven-man FARC leadership council, known as the general secretariat.

The U.S. State Department had offered a bounty of $5 million for information leading to his arrest, according to AP, as well as the other members of the ruling secretariat.

The Marxist rebel group has been trying for 40 years to overthrow the Colombian government.

On Wednesday, FARC released four former Colombian lawmakers who were among the estimated 750 hostages the group has held in the jungles of Colombia.

In the past two months, FARC has released six hostages overall. Reyes, a former member of the Colombian Communist Party who joined FARC decades ago, played a key mediation role in their release.

FARC has justified hostage-taking as a legitimate military tactic in a long-running and complex civil war that also has involved right-wing paramilitaries, government forces and drug traffickers.

Reyes’ role in FARC was believed to include international relations and financial operations for the group. A former factory manager for Nestle-Colombia, he was a negotiator during peace talks in 1999 and 2002.
No. 2 Colombian rebel killed, government says – found here.


March 1, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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