Two air force officers were arrested in France Thursday for their connection to a 1998 airstrike that killed 17 civilians, including six children.
Colonel Sergio Andres Garzon Velez and major German David Lamilla Santos were arrested as “sponsors” to the attack.
On December 13, 1998, the Colombian air force pursued soldiers of the guerrilla group FARC who had sabotaged a pipeline the day before. Colombian aircraft flew over the hamlet of Santo Domingo in the district of Aruaca near the border with Venezuela. The aircraft then dropped a bomb and strafed the village with machine gun fire. FBI investigators have stated that the bomb dropped in the village was likely a cluster bomb deployed from a helicopter.
Immediately after the strike, air force Colonel Hector Fabio Velasco claimed that the attack had been conducted by FARC guerrillas, but eyewitnesses contradicted his allegation. Santos is being detained for his role in providing the target information for the strike.
The air force announced that it would abide by the decision to detain the two officers and would “accompany them (in court) in solidarity at this time.”