BOGOTA – A total of 14 police officers were killed and nine were wounded in a FARC rebel ambush earlier this week in the southern Colombian province of Caqueta, police Gen. Santiago Parra said.
Parra made the remarks 24 hours after Wednesday’s attack by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas, in a rural area outside the town of El Doncello.
“The carabineros (members of a specialized mobile unit of the National Police) were ambushed in the Rionegro area by the FARC’s 15th Front, where 14 patrollers, including a sergeant, were killed,” the officer said.
On the day of the attack, Caqueta Government Secretary Edilberto Ramon Endo said the FARC ambush occurred as police were traveling between the towns of Rionegro and El Doncello, in the Amazon province of Caqueta, and that five officers were killed and three were wounded.
Parra said the rebels detonated roadside bombs before shooting the carabineros at close range and finally dousing them with gasoline.
He said the death toll from the ambush could only be determined Thursday after authorities were able to make their way to the scene of the attack, where 62 explosive devices, known as “Chinese hats,” were deactivated.
The general said another nine police were wounded, seven of whom were transported to a hospital in Florencia, Caqueta’s capital. The other two were transferred to Bogota due to the severity of their injuries.
The FARC ambush in Caqueta was followed by two others Thursday near Colombia’s borders with Ecuador and Venezuela that left at least three soldiers dead and seven more wounded.
The ambush in Caqueta is the deadliest since President Juan Manuel Santos came to power on Aug. 7.
The FARC has expressed a willingness to start a dialogue with the government, but Santos has said he will fight the FARC as long as the guerrilla group continues to engage in “terrorism,” adding that the rebels would have to stop staging kidnappings and release all hostages. EFE