Commander of the Colombian armed forces Admiral Edgar Cely said Monday that recent terrorist attacks by the FARC are a desperate attempt by the guerrilla group to seem stronger than they are.
“They are trying to show strength that they don’t have,” Cely said. He added that the FARC are using requests for a peace dialogue as a “mask” to continue to recruit female minors by “winning them over with revolutionary romanticism and turning them into murderers.”
According to Cely, the FARC’s request to present their perspective on the conflict to region body UNASUR is a smokescreen.
“What peace dialogue do they want if they are still displacing [people] and recruiting minors?” Cely asked.
Cely called on the Colombian people to have faith in the Colombian armed forces. He said that the attacks against soldiers over the last week are “acts that show cowardice” and demonstrate that the FARC are not serious about seeking peace.
The admiral did not rule out the possibility that a terrorist attack on an army patrol in El Bagre, Antioquia, was the work of a joint operation between the FARC and fellow left wing rebels the ELN. At least five soldiers died and another seventeen were injured when they were ambushed by guerrillas on Sunday.
Colombian terrorists have inflicted at least four attacks in less than a week, which to date have left 24 members of the armed forces dead.
On Wednesday fourteen police officers were killed in the southern Caqueta department when their patrol vehicle went over a land mine. Guerrillas shot and burned to death those injured in the blast. Five soldiers were also killed in separate clashes Thursday with FARC guerrillas in the Norte de Santander and Nariño departments, on the borders with Venezuela and Ecuador respectively.
Following the spate of attacks, the new administration of President Juan Manuel Santos categorically ruled out peace talks with Colombian terrorist organizations. Santos took office August 7 amid FARC peace overtures after eight years of losses for the rebels under former president Alvaro Uribe’s hardline policy against insurgent groups.
However Colombians for Peace leader Piedad Cordoba has called for the FARC to claim responsibility for the attacks and still hopes to instigate a peace dialogue between left wing rebels and the Colombian government.