Veteran Rebel Leader Killed in Colombia Police-Raid

By Dialogo
September 22, 2010

A Colombian guerrilla commander for whom the United States had offered a US$2.5 million reward was among more than 22 rebels killed in a weekend military assault on a jungle camp, authorities said on September 20.

Veteran FARC leader Sixto Antonio Cabana died in a bombardment and special forces raid on September 19 on his hide-out in southern Colombia near Ecuador’s frontier in the latest clash during a recent upsurge in violence.

“Among the group of terrorists taken out was Sixto Cabana,” Police commander General Oscar Naranjo told reporters. “He was with the FARC for more than 25 years.”

Once a powerful rural army, the FARC has been severely weakened by the government’s U.S.-backed security drive. Several top commanders have been killed or captured as the guerrilla force came under increasing military pressure.

Political risks in Colombia

Cabana, also known as Domingo Biojo, had been engaged in manufacturing and shipping cocaine for the FARC, according to the U.S. State Department.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC by its Spanish initials, has attempted a recent show of strength with attacks that have killed at least 22 officers since President Juan Manuel Santos came to office at the start of August.

The upsurge in attacks at the start of a new government is a usual FARC tactic though violence has been far less intense than during the FARC’s heyday, when rebels took over towns and kidnapped lawmakers almost at will from urban areas.

Former Defense Minister Santos has promised to keep up his predecessor’s hardline stance against illegal groups. He says talks with rebels can only take place when the guerrillas cease hostilities and release security personnel they hold hostage.