FARC guerrillas attacked a local market in southwest Colombia Saturday killing at least three people and injuring 70 others in the southwestern town of Toribio, its mayor told French press agency AFP.
“It was a brutal attack by the FARC against the people of Toribio,” mayor Carlso Banguero said. “It appears they used a car bomb loaded with 220 pounds (100 kilos) of explosives and set it off in the center of town at the market,” he added.
Banguero said it was the third attack by the Marxist FARC, Latin America’s largest and longest-fighting insurgency, in the town this year.
President Juan Manuel Santos also reported that among the dead was at least one police officer.
“They also killed a police sergeant. Our condolences to his family. That sergeant died a hero of the homeland. There have also been other injured policemen and some civilians wounded,” he said in a public ceremony in Bogota.
“A bandit got into a car, it sped up, left the car and the car entered the town and exploded with no regard to whether it wounded or killed civilians and children,” added the president.
The attack in Toribio, which has a population of 26,000, began around 1700 GMT and continued in several neighboring villages.
Several homes in Toribio were almost completely destroyed.
Military helicopters flew over the area to try to rescue the wounded.
“This has been very hard,” said one woman. “There were many people in the village today because it is market day.”
Banguero said the attack was the 13th by FARC on the village. The attacks have killed a total of 41 people and injured 600, he said.
Regional police said the FARC also attacked several other nearby towns, and one person each in Caldono and Siberia was injured as well.
The FARC, created in 1964, is the country’s main guerrilla group and currently has about 8,000 fighters, according to figures from the Ministry of Defense.
In recent months, the guerrillas have stepped up their attacks in small groups.
Last week, the military bombed an encampment of FARC leader Alfonso Cano, but he had apparently fled a short time before.
In June, the Colombian army announced that it had killed Alirio Rojas Bocanegra, security chief of the Marxist group’s top commander, in what officials claimed was a blow against the guerrillas.