Colombian rebels launch attacks; police officers killed

Police officers killed as Colombian rebels launch gun and bomb attacks


MORALES, Colombia — Colombian guerrillas killed two police officers and two other people Monday in separate gun and bomb attacks that wounded at least seven in the country’s restive southwest, officials said.

Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez launched an attack in the town of Morales, Cauca department, on Central General Staff (EMC) rebels who had rejected a peace deal signed with the government by the Marxist guerrilla group FARC in 2016.

EMC militants opened fire and set off cylinder bombs at a police station in Morales, killing two officers and two people in prison cells in what Velasquez called a “terrorist attack.”

Three other officers were injured.

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The army said it had sent 100 soldiers to the city, where police director William Salamanca said more explosives were found on the streets.

AFP observed the police station in ruins, with multiple bullet marks on the facade – a scene reminiscent of the now-extinct FARC’s deadly raids in the 1990s.

“It was two hours of fear,” a Morales resident who asked not to be named, told AFP.

Velasquez traveled to Popayan, the capital of the Cauca department, at the request of President Gustavo Petro, where he said officials had also reported “intimidation” by guerrillas in several other towns.

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Petro described the situation in Cauca as “unacceptable.”

“We will not tolerate the continued terrorization of the population with terrorist attacks,” he wrote on X.

In the neighboring Valle del Cauca department in the north, a motorcycle loaded with explosives was detonated, wounding four people, including three children, officials there said.

The two departments are a hotbed of activity by EMC fighters under the control of guerrilla leader Ivan Mordisco, who left a peace process in April after a split within the group, which had united some 3,500 fighters.

The government has since launched an offensive against Mordisco’s forces, while negotiations with the other faction continue.