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Twenty-nine Military Personnel Wounded in Colombia by Explosive Device Attributed to the FARC

By Dialogo
February 07, 2011

Twenty-nine soldiers were wounded by a FARC explosive device that went off as a military patrol was passing nearby in the Colombian department of Arauca, on the border with Venezuela, a military spokesperson told AFP on 3 February.

“Twenty-nine soldiers were wounded, all with light wounds except for one whose condition is serious and who is in surgery right now in San Vicente Hospital,” in Arauca, the capital of the department of the same name, said the spokesperson for the Army’s 18th Brigade, headquartered in that city.

The attack, attributed to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Communist guerrilla group, occurred early on the morning of 3 February, when the military personnel were moving through a remote rural area, the spokesperson specified.

As he explained, the military personnel were isolating the area, due to the fact that the guerrillas had abandoned a vehicle loaded with explosives that ultimately did not go off.

Nevertheless, the rebels activated another explosive charge when the military patrol was about six kilometers from the location of the car bomb.

At the end of a security council meeting in Arauca, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called on the Army not to neglect its operating procedures “to prevent new attacks.”

“We’re going to reinforce the rigor of our procedures, so that situations of this kind don’t happen again. Fortunately, there were no dead, but we do have to regret the injuries,” Santos indicated.

In his turn, Vice President Angelino Garzón, who is responsible for human-rights policy, condemned the event, which he characterized as a “criminal attack,” and emphasized that the wounded “are humble soldiers, the children of peasants, of members of the people.”

The event occurred at the same time that civilian groups in Arauca are holding a “civic strike” to demand the release of seven indigenous social leaders detained by the authorities on 25 January, on charges of rebellion and criminal conspiracy, according to a statement by the protest organizers.