Santos orders new army unit to curb southwest Colombia FARC violence

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Sunday ordered the formation of a new army unit to curb the increase in FARC violence in the southwestern Cauca department.

The president’s three-point attack scheme will reinforce current military presence in Cauca with specialized police and army battalions.

“We also agreed with the [Cauca department] governor to construct a high mountain battalion in Tacueyo. We will begin this immediately, and believe that this is a decision of great strategic value because it will allow security forces to operate in an area that has traditionally been used by guerrillas as a place to run to and a sanctuary,” said the President.

Santos allegedly ordered troops to destroy houses used by FARC to attack civilians or government officials.

“We’ve made the decision that from now on, security personnel will destroy any house being used by terrorists to attack government forces or civilians. No more using houses to shoot at security forces or at civilians.”

These decisions are the result of a special security council meeting with Santos, which followed a number of attacks of the FARC in the department. On Saturday, an alleged rebel car-bomb reportedly killed six and destroyed the central square of the town of Toribio. On Sunday, rebels detonated a horse-bomb, killing two policemen and opened fire at an army patrol, injuring two soldiers.

The Cauca department has been long exposed to violence by both guerrillas and illegal armed groups like the Rastrojos and Urabeños. According to local authorities, the department is crucial in trafficking cocaine from the south of Colombia to the country’s western Pacific coast.

Cauca department

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