Four soldiers have died after one stepped on an anti-personnel mine in a minefield in the central Colombian Tolima department, the army announced Tuesday.
The incident took place between Chaparral and Rioblanco, two municipalities in the mountainous south of the department where guerrilla group FARC has a strong presence.
According to the army, the mine field was laid by the FARC’s 21st front, which is active in the south of Tolima and west of the Huila department.
The bodies of the four soldiers, all members of an elite high-mountain battalion, were removed from the site by helicopter.
According to official figures, landmines killed 69 Colombians last year. Two-third of the victims were members of the military. A total of 369 Colombians were injured.
The use of landmines was prohibited by 158 countries — including Colombia, but excluding the United States — in the 1997 Ottawa Treaty. In Colombia, the landmines are mostly used by leftist groups like the FARC and ELN, but are also increasingly used by drug trafficking organizations as a means to protect their illicit crops.