domingo, 17 de febrero de 2013

Colombian rebels free soldier, troops, rebels killed

Rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) freed on 16 February a soldier they captured on 30 or 31 January, handing him over to the Red Cross and members of the mediating group Colombianas y Colombianos por la Paz (CCP), El Espectador and EFE reported. The handover in the southern district of Policarpa was broadcast by the Venezuelan television channel TeleSUR. The 19-year-old soldier Josué Álvarez Meneses hugged mediators who received him and became tearful as he spoke to TeleSUR; he said he was well treated in captivity, El Espectador reported. Clashes, bombings and deaths on both sides were reported from around Colombia on 16 February. In the western district of Guacarí in the Valle del Cauca department, troops shot dead a FARC fighter and dismantled an "explosives factory" presumably belonging to the FARC; in the south-western department of Huila troops shot dead a guerrilla identified as third-in-command of Front 3 of the FARC's Southern Block, a man dubbed Eladio o El Pastuso, RCN La Radio reported on 16 February, citing the head of the army's Third Division General Luis Fernando Rojas. The army also killed three FARC guerrillas including a chieftain from Front 21 of the FARC dubbed El Tío, El Colombiano reported on 16 February. Authorities identified him as involved in extortion in the department of Tolima west of Bogotá, and suspected as involved in the deaths of several soldiers. Another guerrilla identified by his pseudonym Mister was also "neutralised" according to El Colombiano, while TeleSUR reported him as killed; he was described as a member of the "security ring" of the head of the FARC's Central Block. Two soldiers died on 16 February after they stepped on mines at a locality between the north-western districts of Mutatá and Dabeiba in Antióquia, RCN La Radio reported. Suspected FARC guerrillas also bombed the police station of the southern district of Puerto Asís, injuring three policemen and damaging 28 buildings nearby, RCN radio reported.