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Colombian defense minister says security forces killed leading FARC commander

Colombian defense minister says security forces killed leading FARC commander

Security force killed the No. 2 commander of Colombia's main rebel group in combat Saturday, the government said, dealing the biggest blow to the leftist guerrillas since hardline President Alvaro Uribe took office.
Raul Reyes, who became the public face of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia as the group's spokesman, was killed just accross the border in neighboring Ecuador in fighting that left a total of 17 rebels and one soldier dead, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos told a news conference.
The diminutive 59-year-old Reyes, whose real name was Luis Edgar Devia Silva, was considered a contender to take over the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC.
His death marked the largest setback to Colombia's rebels since Uribe took office in 2002.
The U.S. State Department had offered a bounty of US$5 million (euro3.3 million) for information leading to the arrest of Reyes, as well as the other six members of the FARC's ruling secretariat.
The killing of Reyes is the latest in a string of successes for Colombia's armed forces, backed by billions in U.S. aid, against senior rebels over the past year.
As the guerrillas' leader, Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda, grows ever older, Reyes has frequently been mentioned as a potential successor.
The death of Reyes comes as the government and rebels bicker over negotiations for the release of hostages held for years by the FARC. The group has proposed trading about 40 captives _ including French-Colombian former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. defense contractors _ for hundreds of imprisoned guerrillas.


Updated : 2021-05-06 07:23 GMT+08:00