BOGOTA Ė A FARC commander suspected of being involved in a 2011 bombing that killed the highway patrol chief of the northwestern Colombian province of Antioquia has been killed, the Army News Agency reported.
The rebel commander, whose name was not released, was killed in San Francisco, a hamlet in Antioquia, in fighting with army troops.
The dead guerrilla, who commanded the 9th squad of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was linked to the killing of Antioquia highway patrol chief Maj. Felix Antonio Jaimes Villamil in June 2011, the army said.
The FARC commander ran extortion rackets targeting business owners and ranchers, and he was in charge of overseeing cocaine shipments passing through his area.
The rebel commander used explosives to stage attacks on police and soldiers providing security in the region, the army said.
The guerrilla commander, who had belonged to the FARC for 25 years, was accused of toppling half a dozen electric transmission towers, attacking and burning public transit vehicles, and stealing cargo.
No casualties were reported among the soldiers taking part in the operation, the army said.
The Colombian government has made fighting the FARC a top priority and has obtained billions in U.S. aid for counterinsurgency operations.
The FARC, Colombiaís oldest and largest leftist guerrilla group, is on both the U.S. and EU lists of terrorist groups. Drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping-for-ransom are the FARCís main means of financing its operations.
The FARC has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years at the hands of the Colombian security forces.
Alfonso Cano, the FARCís top leader, was killed on Nov. 4 in a military and police operation that the government hailed as the biggest blow to the FARC in its nearly 50-year history.
Cano, a 63-year-old intellectual who had entered the ranks of the FARC 30 years ago, was killed in in a remote area of the southwestern province of Cauca a few hours after fleeing a bombardment.
The FARC also suffered a series of blows in 2008, with the biggest coming in July of that year, when the Colombian army rescued a group of high-profile rebel-held captives: former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, U.S. military contractors Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell and Marc Gonsalves, and 11 other Colombian police officers and soldiers.