Colombia’s security forces reinforced their presence in the country’s most western department Choco Sunday after an alleged coalition of FARC and “Rastrojos” succcessfully ordered the population to shut down public transport and trade.
The deployment of 300 troops comes after the news of a bus and car being torched on a road linking department capital Quibdo with Istmina.
According to authorities the FARC’s 34th Front, allegedly supported by drug gang “Los Rastrojos,” has ordered a complete halt of all transport and trade in the department until November 17..
Interim Governor of Choco Oscar Gamboa revealed that the security forces will be deployed to counter any further burning of vehicles and prevent illegal roadblocks.
He also announced a special security meeting in Choco to discuss how to improve the worsening security situation in the area.
“The Security Council Deputy Minister of Defense and the commanders of the Seventh Division of the Army are to take measures to address the issue of mobility which is a challenge we face due to the actions of FARC,” he said.
Choco is an area which has been beset with security problems with drug gang Los Rastrojos running the rule over the department ever since the organization took over the drug trafficking routes of the Norte del Valle cartel.
The shut-down of the Choco department is the second this year. The FARC ordered a similar “armed strike” in March after which the national government also promised to send 300 extra troops.