The Colombian army announced plans to deploy 35,000 soldiers to protect the nation’s roads and highways over the Christmas period, and to step up operations against illegal armed groups, reports El Pais.
Soldiers will also be stationed in different regions to protect national energy infrastructure and both state-owned and private companies, according to the announcement.
General William Henry Escalante Torres said that the goal was “the protection of civilians and private and state resources.”
“Our presence is a way we can demonstrate the commitment of the troops to defend the security and peace of the public,” he said.
The army will work in close contact with other security agencies and plans to use special vehicles, satellite communications equipment and teams of explosives experts to ensure a safe holiday season.
Three million Colombians are expected to hit the highways over the period, although this number could be lower due to the devastating rainy season which has affected much of the country.
“We will protect all municipalities in the northern Valle del Cauca and guarantee the peace. In coordination with the national police we will make plans to avoid kidnappings and other illegal activities,“ said Colonel Wilson Neyhid Cahwues.
The additional protection and surveillance would not affect ongoing operations against the FARC, according to the army.