Colom­bia at­tor­ney gen­eral ac­cuses FARC of ‘war crime’ over am­bush

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Colom­bia’s at­tor­ney gen­eral ac­cused the FARC rebels Thurs­day of com­mit­ting a war crime by am­bush­ing a rest­ing army unit with un­con­ven­tional weapons, but the guer­ril­las in­sisted they acted in self- de­fense.

The night- time clash Tues­day- Wed­nes­day in the west­ern rebel bas­tion of Cauca left 11 sol­diers and two FARC fighters dead, ac­cord­ing to the army — the lat­est set­back for the twoyear- old peace process aimed at end­ing Colom­bia’s five- decade con­flict.

The talks, which have reached par­tial deals on sev­eral is­sues, con­tin­ued Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day de­spite the vi­o­lence.

In the af­ter­math of the in­ci­dent, Pres­i­dent Juan Manuel San­tos or­dered the re­sump­tion of airstrikes on FARC po­si­tions, ac­cus­ing the Marx­ist rebels of break­ing the uni­lat­eral cease­fire they de­clared last De­cem­ber.

FARC com­man­der Pablo Cata­tumbo re­jected the army’s de­scrip­tion of the in­ci­dent as a rebel attack, call­ing it a “mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion” in which the rebels acted de­fen­sively.

But At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ed­uardo Mon­teale­gre said in­ves­ti­ga­tions showed the FARC was solely re­spon­si­ble.

“The attack was a late- night am­bush car­ried out when the sol­diers were rest­ing,” he said.

“The meth­ods of attack used by the FARC, which in­cluded the use of un­con­ven­tional ex­plo­sive de­vices, con­sti­tute a war crime, in ad­di­tion to the homi­cides that were com­mit­ted.”

He said at­tack­ing sol­diers out­side com­bat was also a vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law.

Foren­sic ex­perts found that ex­plo­sive de­vices, as­sault ri­fles and in one case a hand­gun were used, “char­ac­ter­is­tics that cor­re­spond with the sce­nario of an am­bush,” they said.

“We have found no ev­i­dence in­di­cat­ing that ( the sol­diers killed) were able to re­act to the attack,” chief foren­sic an­a­lyst Car­los Valdes told jour­nal­ists.

The in­ci­dent was one of the dead­li­est since peace talks be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the FARC opened in Cuba in Novem­ber 2012.

Some 20 wounded.

Speak­ing in Ha­vana, Cata­tumbo, who used to lead the guer­rilla units in­volved, blamed the gov­ern­ment.

“There was a mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion caused by an army siege, which is not new. This op­er­a­tion against th­ese units has been go­ing on for four months,” he told a press con­fer­ence.

He called on San­tos to re­verse his de­ci­sion to re­new air strikes, which the pres­i­dent had suspended on March 10 in recog­ni­tion of the guer­ril­las’ cease­fire.

“The so­lu­tion is not to start bomb­ing again. Please, they’ve been bomb­ing in Colom­bia since the war be­gan and it’s only ac­com­plished one thing: to in­crease the num­ber of dead,” he said.

The gov­ern­ment has re­fused to com­mit to a bi­lat­eral cease­fire un­til there is a fi­nal peace ac­cord.

sol­diers were

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