Bogota, Dec 6 (EFE).- An attack staged by dissidents from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group on Tuesday morning in a rural part of Buenos Aires, in Colombia’s southwestern Cauca province, left six soldiers dead, President Gustavo Petro reported.
The ambush was carried out about 2:55 am when members of the Jaime Martinez Front, which takes orders from the Estado Central and is one of the two big groups of former guerrillas that arose after the FARC disbanded, harassed and attacked an army patrol with assault rifles, homemade mortars and grenades in a rural area.
Petro said, after emerging from an extraordinary security council meeting called to discuss the attack, that six Colombian soldiers were killed in the ambush, all of them between 18 and 20 years of age.
Lance Corporal Jimi Javier Castro Quenan, who was on the scene, initially reported that four soldiers had been killed and six wounded, and the army said that seven soldiers from the unit had not yet been located.
The Jaime Martinez Front, one of the most active former FARC rebel groups in that part of Cauca, has staged attacks on indigenous communities and assassinated social and indigenous leaders and falls under the Western Coordinated Command of dissident FARC members who allegedly take orders from guerrilla leader “Ivan Mordisco.”
Several weeks ago, the dissident rebel leader expressed his commitment to total peace and holding peace talks with the government, calling upon the guerrillas under his command to cease all attacks, unless fired upon, an order that has been ignored on several occasions.
Thus, Petro said Tuesday that “the army is not going to abandon the area where it’s located in Cauca,” adding that at present there are peace talks under way only with the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels and that on Wednesday an operation will be launched to bring to justice “organizations of young armed people closely linked with drug trafficking in residential neighborhoods of Buenaventura,” Colombia’s largest Pacific port.
“Up to now, there have been two concrete contacts. As for the rest, our position is that military action will not cease as long as there is no real willingness (on the rebels’ part) to negotiate,” said Petro, whose administration has made preliminary contact with FARC dissident groups, although nothing specific has emerged from those efforts yet.
Regarding the town of Buenos Aires, as well as the nearby communities of Santander de Quilichao and Caldono, the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office has issued several early warning alerts, the latest one made in August, due to the “territorial dispute” between the Western Coordinated Command and the Segunda Marquetalia, which – commanded by “Ivan Marquez” – is the other main FARC dissident group.