Colombian troops on Wednesday killed seven guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), including a commander of the FARC’s 50th Front, during a military operation in the central-western department ofTolima, officials and media reported.
During the operation, which occurred in a rural, mountainous area near the Tolima capital of Ibague, Colombian soldiers were backed by air force fighter planes. The slain commander was identified as 42-year old Ciro Gómez Rayo, alias ‘Enrique Zuñiga’. A female guerrilla, known as “Marjury” and believed to be Zuñiga’s girlfriend, was also killed during the raid.
Following the death of Zuñiga, commander of the 50th front since 15 years, and the arrests of seven other guerrillas of his unit, Bogotá now claims it has dismantled the FARC’s 50th Front. This unit had been most active in Colombia’s central coffee zone, particularly in the deparments of Tolima, Quindio and Risaralda. The guerrillas were said to be planning to launch a series of attacks on local highways.
The FARC, established in 1964 as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party, has suffered severe losses since Colombian President Alvaro Uribe vowed to eliminate the FARC presence in his country.