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Colombian Guerrilla Group FARC Arranged Purchase of Twenty Anti-Aircraft Missiles

By Dialogo
July 14, 2009

BOGOTA, 12 July 2009 (AFP) - The Colombian guerrilla group FARC arranged to purchase about twenty latest-generation Russian anti-aircraft missiles through contacts in Venezuela, where the government has promised to cooperate in the investigation, the daily El Tiempo reported on Sunday, citing official sources. According to the newspaper, officials “at the highest level” of the Colombian government affirmed that there is “trustworthy information” indicating that the rebel group “concluded arrangements to acquire” IGLA-S24 rocket launchers through intermediaries located in Venezuela. The individual in charge of the contacts is supposed to be Luciano Marín (‘Iván Márquez’), one of the members of the top echelon of the Marxist guerrilla group, who is said to be in Venezuela, according to Colombian media reports based on official sources. “It has not yet been confirmed that this material has entered” Colombia, but “Air Force and Army Air Corps pilots” assigned to zones where the rebel leadership is suspected to be located “have been notified of the potential threat,” the newspaper indicated. The matter is of such great concern, according to El Tiempo, that it has led to two meetings between the Colombian cabinet and the military high command and was on President Alvaro Uribe’s agenda during his visit to his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chávez, in April. A source at Nariño House (the seat of the presidency) maintained that Caracas “made a commitment to look into the matter,” the daily indicated. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), founded forty-five years ago, are the largest guerrilla group in the country with between six thousand and ten thousand members, according to official and independent estimates.
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