Colombia’s Santos unveils major offensive against guerrillas

By Dialogo
September 14, 2010

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on September 11 he would double the military’s offensive against leftist guerillas after an attack killed 40 police and military officers.

Colombia’s rebel groups have launched a string of deadly attacks in recent weeks following the inauguration of Santos, a former defense minister who has promised to keep pressure on the insurgents.

“We have decided to intensify the offensive… so that these criminals do not have time to plan their operations,” Santos said in Monteria, in Cordoba department.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) — Latin America’s oldest and most powerful insurgency — and the National Liberation Army (ELN) traditionally carry out more violent attacks during government transitions. Santos took power on August 7.

Eight police officers were killed in clashes with leftist rebels on September 10 in southwestern Colombia near the border with Ecuador in a shootout with members of the Marxist FARC who tried to take over San Miguel town in Putumayo province.

Santos has rejected a rebel offer of peace talks, calling for them to first free hostages and stop recruiting minors.