Two attacks with explosives that left 15 dead in two towns in southwestern Colombia, attributed to the FARC guerrilla group, led President Juan Manuel Santos on February 2 to launch major Military reinforcements in the region.
“Tumaco has suffered a great deal; it’s known as a strategic center for ‘narcoterrorism.’ We’ve decided to move into Tumaco with one Marine unit and another from the Army. It’ll add up to more than 2,500 additional men,” said Santos, who traveled to the region to hold a security council meeting. The decision was also made to increase the police contingent by 300 men.
In the attack in Tumaco, on February 1, nine people died and 69 were injured.
Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón characterized the attack as “terrorism” and blamed the FARC and the criminal gang Los Rastrojos [The Stubble] for the attack. “The FARC, in alliance with Los Rastrojos, are defending a drug-trafficking route to the Pacific. What they’ve done is pure and simple terrorism, and force is going to be used directly against those organizations,” he said.
While Santos was in Tumaco, a car bomb exploded in front of a police station in the center of the town of Villa Rica, in the department of Cauca, causing six deaths and approximately 30 injuries. Those killed included two minors and the commander of the police station where the device exploded.
Like the one in Tumaco, this attack was also attributed to a FARC front operating in the area.
The attacks occurred hours after the guerrilla group indefinitely postponed the release of five police officers and one member of the Military, all kidnapped and held for over 12 years, on the grounds that the area where they were to be turned over had been militarized.
“The attacks in Tumaco and Villarica are regrettable (…) With these actions, the FARC makes any possibility of dialogue ever more distant,” Interior Minister Germán Vargas Lleras wrote on his Twitter account.