More than 2,600 fighters deserted illegal armed groups in 2009, Colombian authorities announced on Monday.
Colombia’s largest rebel group, the FARC, suffered the most desertions, the Defense Ministry’s Program for Humanitarian Attention to the Demobilized said. 2,128 members of the Marxist rebel group turned their back on the organization.
492 rebels deserted their ranks in the ELN, the country’s second largest leftist group.
Of the 2,638 deserters, 593 were women and 221 were minors.
According to the government agency, 20,555 guerrillas deserted since 2002, when President Alvaro Uribe took office and, backed by U.S. military support, pushed the guerrilla groups back away from the cities and into the mountains and jungles of Colombia.