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THE WORLD

Soldiers Kill at Least 25 in Colombia

September 07, 2003|From Associated Press

BOGOTA, Colombia — Soldiers killed at least 25 suspected rebels and paramilitary fighters Saturday in three military operations in central Colombia, authorities said.

Meanwhile, police captured 50 suspected rebels, some of whom are accused of killing 10 hostages, including a state governor, during a botched rescue attempt in May.

Most of the deaths occurred in fighting at a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, camp in the mountains of Casanare state, northeast of the capital, Bogota. Government troops fired on suspected guerrillas there, killing 16 people, the army said. More than 100 rebels fled, the army said. No soldiers were reported killed.

In a rural area outside Cocorna, the army also killed three suspected rebels from the National Liberation Army, or ELN.

Authorities claimed that one of those killed was responsible for the kidnapping and killing of a teacher, Ana Cecilia Duque, in April. The ELN tried unsuccessfully to use Duque to force her elderly father to assassinate an enemy paramilitary fighter.

The father instead went to the authorities, and Duque was found dead five days later along a road outside Cocorna, her hometown.

In Santander state, the army said it killed six more paramilitary fighters.

In Medellin, police said Saturday that they had arrested 50 suspected FARC rebels in a joint operation with the army.

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