Conflicts & War

Colombia kills western NLA guerilla leader Uriel in military operation

Bogota, Oct 25 (efe-epa).- The head of the National Liberation Army (NLA) in Colombia’s western front was killed in a weekend military operation, the country’s president announced Sunday.

Iván Duque said guerrilla leader Andrés Vanegas Londoño, or Uriel, was killed following a joint operation involving various wings of Colombia’s armed forces.

“I want to inform the country […] that “Odín” operation was carried out (Sunday) during which terrorist Andrés Felipe Vanegas Londoño, who used the alias of ‘Uriel,’ was killed,” Duque said in a statement in Quibdó, the capital of Chocó.

Uriel was head of the Western War Front of the NLA that operates in the west of the country and died during a military operation in the Chocoano municipality of Nóvita.

The head of state said the guerrilla was killed in a “meticulous” operation by the army, the police and the navy, which had the support of the air force and the attorney general’s office.

“In this operation a dangerous criminal fell, who was responsible for crimes such as kidnapping, murder of social leaders, persecution and harassment of people, murder of soldiers and police, and also for shaping and stimulating the recruitment of minors,” Duque said. “This is a very important blow because one of the most visible figures of that terrorist organization has fallen.”

Duque said Uriel was a “criminal who used social networks to apologize for crime.”

Uriel, who had been in the NLA for more than 25 years, said a month ago that this guerrilla participated in the violent demonstrations in Bogotá against police brutality in which at least 13 people died on Sep. 9 and Sep. 10, when at least 75 police one-stop services were set on fire.

Uriel had achieved notoriety in the country for his appearances on social networks, in which he called himself the “editorial voice” of the Western War Front and commented on political issues and peace negotiations.

President Duque said he was one of the NLA commanders who claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack against the Police Cadet School in Bogotá, which in January of last year left 22 dead and 66 wounded.

The NLA and Uriel’s Twitter accounts and websites were suspended following the attack, platforms on which the leader used to post information about criminal actions and the organization’s propaganda.

“This bandit, this criminal felt untouchable but we reached his den,” Duque said about Uriel, who had a direct line with Pablo Beltrán, a member of the NLA’s Central Command.

After the attack against the Santander General School, Uriel said guerrillas would continue with “this type of terrorist attack against other military or police facilities in the country,” the Defense Ministry reported Sunday.

That attack was the breaking point of the incipient peace process between the government and the NLA, whose negotiations, which began in 2017, were suspended by President Duque, who said the dialogue would continue only if the guerrilla gave up criminal activities.

In response to this condition, Uriel said the Western War Front would not renounce the income it receives from drug trafficking. EFE-EPA


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