Colombian army forces have killed “Alfonso Cano,” the supreme leader of the FARC, the country’s defense minister confirmed Friday.
The defense minister said Colombia’s most wanted man was killed earlier that day following a bombing raid in the south west of the country.
According to Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon, Cano was killed while being pursued by armed forces in the southwestern Cauca department, hours after a number of his closest men were killed in a bombing raid in Suarez, a rural municipality in the southwestern Cauca department.
Cano’s death was confirmed by authorities after his body was examined by forensic scientists.
The 63-year old Cano assumed leadership of the FARC in May 2008 after the death of founder “Manuel Marulanda.”
Under Cano’s leadership, the guerrilla organization adopted a new strategy after years of military setbacks. The new strategy, which involved an increase in hit-and-run attacks and dividing the guerrilla army into tiny fronts, often in groups made up of as little as three people, caused an increasing number of deaths and injuries among Colombian soldiers and led to criticism of the security policy of President Juan Manuel Santos.
The Colombian armed forces had been looking for Cano intensely ever since he took control of Latin America’s oldest guerrilla army. He was thought to be hiding in the mountains of the south of the Tolima department, but reportedly was forced to flee from the traditional FARC stronghold after an army offensive several months ago.
The U.S. State Department, which had indicted the FARC leader on drug trafficking charges in 2006, put out a $5 million reward on information leading to Cano’s capture or death.
According to AP, the death of their leader means that the FARC is losing the organization’s main ideologist.
Reuters reported that while the killing is unlikely to bring a swift end to nearly five decades of war, Cano’s death will further damage the rebel group’s ability to regroup and coordinate high-profile attacks.