Santos condemns ‘cowardly and senseless’ acts, but stands firm on peace
Colombia has seen an upsurge in both sides of the violence over the past two months, with an increase in rebel attacks and military operations.
The FARC called off their five-month-old unilateral ceasefire late last month after Colombian military airstrikes killed 26 rebel fighters in the department of Cauca.
Since then the guerrillas have gone on the offensive, attacking police stations and patrols, and stepping up ambushes and bombing on roads, rivers and energy infrastructure.
On June 10, the rebels killed three police- men and bombed an electrical pylon, leaving nearly 500,000 people in the southern department of Caquetá with no electricity, according to reports.
Two days previously, a FARC unit stopped a convoy of 19 oil trucks in Putumayo and forced the drivers to empty their tanks – containing a total of 5,000 barrels of crude oil – onto the road.
On the same day a bomb destroyed part of the Transandino pipeline in Nariño, releasing thousands of litres of crude oil into the environment..
Both attacks caused significant pollution to the surrounding area as well as contaminating the drinking water of nearby villages, according to reports.
Colombian security forces have been intensifying their operations against the FARC in recent months.
Reports say that 40 rebels were killed in three separate military operations at the end of May, although social, labour and human rights organisations allege the numbers are much higher.
They say as many as 80 people – including civilians – died in the Cauca operation. Many accused Colombian troops of being involved in the disappearances of those injured in the bombing.
Speaking from Rome, President Santos condemned the ‘folly’ of the FARC attacks and said that they had done untold damage, hitting hard at the Colombian people’s trust in the peace process.
“If the FARC intends for these cowardly and senseless acts to lead me to declare a bilateral cessation of violence, they are wrong,” he said.
Santo reiterated his order to maintain the military offensive, but also stressed his commitment to peace and the need for a continued dialogue.
“I am willing to gamble every cent of my political capital to achieve peace,” the president said.
By Mark Kennedy