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Rebels Kill Colombian Whose Son's Dying Wish Was Unmet

April 07, 2002|From Associated Press

BOGOTA, Colombia — Rebels have killed the kidnapped father of a Colombian boy whose plight came to symbolize the callousness of the country's insurgents, authorities said Saturday.

Leftist rebels shot and killed policeman Norberto Perez and another officer, Victor Manuel Marulanda, after they apparently tried to escape, said Gen. Ernesto Gilibert, the commander of the Colombian national police.

Perez was abducted more than two years ago when fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, attacked the small town where he was posted.

His son, Andres Felipe Perez, who had cancer, later begged the rebels to free his father so that they could see each other before he died.

The sight of the emaciated boy on national television stirred the country, prompting offers from prominent Colombians to swap places with the father and a plea from President Andres Pastrana for the rebels to show mercy.

The rebels refused and, in December, the 12-year-old boy died.

It wasn't clear whether news of the boy's death ever reached Perez, who was being held by the rebels somewhere in the jungles of western Colombia.

"Not only do they kidnap him, they assassinate him after ignoring calls from his dying son," Gilibert told reporters Saturday.

FARC fighters delivered the bodies of the two policemen to members of the Red Cross late Friday in the village of Santa Ana in Antioquia province, 125 miles northwest of Bogota, the capital.

Perez was shot in the head and back. Marulanda, who was kidnapped by the rebels in June 1999, was shot nine times, Gilibert said.

Lorena Carmona, Perez's wife and Andres' mother, told local radio Saturday that the officers were killed after they tried to escape.

The FARC rebels are holding about 50 state security force members taken hostage in recent years during fighting. Hundreds of other Colombians are kidnapped each year, most of them by guerrillas seeking ransoms to fund their insurgencies.

The 38-year civil war, pitting Colombia's two main rebel armies against a paramilitary group and the government, kills an estimated 3,500 people each year.

Violence has worsened in Colombia since February, when the government ended a three-year peace process with the FARC.

At least eight townships were without electricity Saturday after FARC fighters blew up four electrical towers in Cundinamarca province, authorities said.

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