Colombia resumes air raids after FARC kill 11 troops
Colombia’s president on Wednesday ordered the resumption of air raids on rebel camps after an attack by leftist guerrillas killed 11 soldiers and wounded 19, jeopardizing progress in two-year-old peace talks.
President Juan Manuel Santos, however, gave no indication the government was thinking of pulling out of the negotiations, saying the bloodshed underlined the need to end Colombia’s half century conflict.
The attack occurred around midnight Tuesday in the volatile southwest department of Cauca when an army platoon sleeping in a covered sports pavilion was surprised by guerrillas firing homemade explosives and grenades. A corporal and 10 other soldiers died during the attack by a unit of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the army’s 3rd Division said.
Santos condemned the attack, which he said was premeditated and not the result of any army incursion. He said he had lifted a month-old suspension on aerial bombings of FARC camps that had been trumpeted as a major milepost in the effort to end a half century of fighting.
“Let it be very clear to the FARC: I’m not going let myself be pressured by vile acts like this,” Santos said, flanked by his top military commanders as he read from a prepared statement in Cali, where he traveled to oversee operations in the combat zone to apprehend the attackers.
Colombians took to social media to denounce the attack and urge Santos to abandon the peace talks being held in Havana.
“Santos, don’t betray us anymore,” former President Alvaro Uribe, a fierce critic of the negotiations, said on Twitter. “Don’t justify the murder of our soldiers with this talk of war you want to end.”