The Armed Forces of Colombia killed seven members of the country’s oldest living rebel group, the FARC, in a skirmish Tuesday morning in the central state of Tolima, close to the FARC birthplace. Additionally five FARC members were captured.
Just miles from the original FARC headquarters, the “Republic of Marquetalia,” the Colombian military announced that its “Fuerza de Tarea Zeus” unit battled the “Heroes of Marquetalia,” including FARC central command leader Alfredo González early Tuesday morning. Seven unnamed guerrillas were killed and five are now in military custody.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed the attack and the ensuing deaths and captures from Spain. Santos, the former Defense Minister ,added that the army , “should continue the offensive as if there were not dialogues in Havana.”
The FARC and the government are currently engaged in peace talks in Havana, Cuba, but no overarching ceasefire has been put in place. In fact, while the FARC had declared a ceasefire briefly during the holiday season–though many reports suggest that the guerrillas violated their own ceasefire–the government has never said that it would stop its military operations against the rebels.
A communication from the Commanding General of the military said, “the operation came about through an intense amount of intelligence work moved forward by the National Police. [The National Police] allowed us to locate a concentration of terrorists of the two mobile columns of the FARC, that had the order of the [FARC leadership] to carry out terrorist actions of national impact.”
The communication also asserted that in the last 24 hours, the military has “neutralized 31 terrorists, of them, 21 killed in combat, and 10 captured.”
The Havana dialogues, the fourth historical attempt at peace talks with the FARC, have been ongoing more or less continuously since November 2012.