Colombian government announced the deployment of 573 more Armed Forces troops and special intelligence agents in the southern town of Tumaco, in the face of recent increases in violence and crime throughout the area.
During the activation of the Marine Brigade Number 4, President Juan Manuel Santos announced that military presence in the region will be increasing from 2,780 persons to 3,353 in upcoming months in the coastal region of the Nariño department.
The new Tumaco unit will be made up of four separate battalions, two covering basin areas, one assigned to the expanse of the river, and one in charge of command and support.
“We will add two riverine combat elements before the end of this year, which would make up a total of 13 riverine combat elements in the area, each one would have at least four boats and this will allow us to control the territory more effectively, especially in light of the problems we have seen recently” the head of state said Wednesday.
On Tuesday, local politicians called for military reinforcements to regain control of the troubled town of Tumaco, saying that the town needed a specialist unit to tackle extortion by criminal gangs, neo-paramilitaries and the leftist guerrilla group FARC.
Santos added that they will also be reinforcing special intelligence in the area, and collaborating with the “Prosecutor Generals Office to increase their presence [in Tumaco] to make the intelligence work more effective.”
On Sunday, seven Tumaco residents were killed, and a government official was kidnapped by an unidentified armed group. In the past year, 14 police officers have been assassinated and 10 alleged terrorist attacks have occurred.
The Colombian president explained that “this type of crime, delinquency, and terrorism that we are seeing in this area of the country, can be primarily combated with intelligence, and with this there will be a big reinforcement” of security in the area.
The announcement to increase security in Tumaco followed Santos’ decision Tuesday to also deploy more troops throughout the troubled southwestern department of Cauca.
Santos concluded his announcement by saying that the brigade activation in Tumaco will have a positive impact on the overall security campaign that is being pushed forward in the south of Colombia.