Six Killed in Ecuador-Colombia Border Confrontation

By Dialogo
August 12, 2013

An Ecuadorean Soldier and five members of a Colombian illegal force were killed on August 8 during a confrontation on the border, urging a call by the government for Bogota to reinforce military control in the area.

The conflict was one of the deadliest involving the Ecuadorean Army in recent years, and resulted in a wounded officer and two illegal members captured in Puerto Mestanza village, Sucumbíos province (northeast), on the border with the Colombian department of Putumayo, according to authorities.

Communist FARC guerrillas and armed groups that emerged after extreme right paramilitaries were demobilized, operate in the area, as well as drug traffickers, and fuel and weapons smugglers.

We must “insist on our request to the Colombian government to reinforce their presence on the border. We are aware that they are making an effort, but these facts indicate that these attempts are not enough,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño told the press, along with Minister of Defense María Fernanda Espinosa and military commanders.

The confrontation took place on August 7, after Ecuadorean Military patrols in the area detected an armed group that surrounded them in order to force their surrender, according to Leonardo Barreiro, Armed Forces Joint Command chief.

However, early on August 8, the command opened fire against Ecuadorean troops, who repelled the attack. During their escape, the group killed 28-year-old Lieutenant Diego Maldonado, and wounded Soldier Raúl Montachana, while five “members of the illegal group were killed,” the officer said.

An Ecuadorean Armed Forces contingent of 8,000 men operate along the 700 km-border with Colombia, composed mainly of jungle and riverine areas, where controls were reinforced following Lieutenant Maldonado’s death.