Red Cross Turns Over Remains of Colombian Military Personnel
By Dialogo July 16, 2012
On July 12, the International Red Cross turned over to the authorities the bodies of two Military personnel whose plane guerrillas claim to have shot down amid combat in southwestern Colombia, something that the Government described as “unlikely,” since it would have required a missile.
“The mortal remains of the two crew members of the Air Force plane have now been turned over by the ICRC to the authorities in Popayán,” a city located 650 km southwest of Bogotá, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on its official Twitter account.
Shortly before, Erika Tovar, an ICRC representative in the area, had told AFP that a delegation from that humanitarian organization had recovered the two bodies in order to turn them over to the Military authorities.
The two Military personnel, who were flying in a Super Tucano manufactured in Brazil, were listed as missing on July 11.
On July 12, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, a communist group) stated that they had shot down the aircraft, showing a group of journalists the remains of the plane, along with the body of the copilot, which ICRC delegates traveled to the area of Jambaló, in the northern part of the department of Cauca, to recover.
The body of the second crew member was found in another nearby location by local firefighters, who also turned it over to the ICRC delegates, Tovar explained.
The Colombian authorities have not yet announced what caused the plane to crash as it was supporting the Army in combat against the guerrilla group, at the same time that President Juan Manuel Santos was conducting a visit to the department of Cauca, one of the areas where the internal armed conflict is most intense.
“The truth is that we don’t yet know what happened, but it’s very unlikely that the plane was shot down by the guerrilla group, because they don’t have the capacity for that,” the president asserted.
“What we have is a crashed plane, and we will open an investigation into why that happened. There’s another version, which is that of the terrorists, who say that they did this. Colombia knows how many times they’ve lied. There’s nothing concrete. The FARC wants to take advantage of the situation in Cauca and benefit from it,” said General Tito Pinilla, the commander of the Air Force.
Capable of traveling at an average speed of 550 km per hour, the Super Tucano could only be shot down by surface-to-air missiles.
The FARC is Colombia’s leading guerrilla group, with almost half a century of armed struggle and around 9,200 fighters.