Colombia’s defense ministry on Monday announced the creation of an anti-terrorism center in response to an increasing amount of rebel attacks in the southwest of the country.
In the past few weeks, left-wing FARC rebels have stepped up attacks against civilian infrastructure and military targets in the southwestern Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Nariño departments, prompting Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos to send defense minister Juan Carlos Pinzon to the region last week.
The minister in turn announced the creation of the anti-terrorism center to fight the Colombia’s largest insurgency from the region where they operate.
“The objective [of the Integrated Center Against Terrorism] is to centralize all of the information, all the intelligence that exists about terrorist attacks in this region and also [information] that will allow the capture and trial or neutralization of the manifestations of terrorism,” said Pinzon from Colombia’s third largest city, Cali, where he is currently in the process of coordinating offensives against the FARC rebels active in the region.
On Friday, FARC rebels launched a dozen seemingly coordinated actions against electricity towers in the three departments, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without electricity.
According to a press release from the Defense Ministry, Pinzon met with representatives from the public service sector and with ranking military officers to discuss preventative strategies against attacks on infrastructure.
The defense minister’s announcement coincided with the creation of The Combined Command of the Southwest, a 37,000 strong military force with the objective of pushing FARC and ELN rebels away from their base areas in the three departments. General Leonardo Barrero, the commander of the new unit, said its creation was a matter of “reorganization” and that it would replace the old Combined Command of the Pacific, which was dismantled in 2011.