The operation, which took place in the municipality of El Bagre about 250 miles northeast of Medellin, captured eight minors in the custody of the FARC, Colombia’s largest guerrilla insurgency. The military says, “This is evidence that the terrorist group continues to violate human rights and international humanitarian law with respect to minors.”
The eight minors reportedly ranged in age from 14 to 17.
Military personnel were unable to comment to clarify if the children found were indeed fighting alongside the FARC.
Recruiting child soldiers is not a new practice for the rebel group who has been fighting the Colombian state for nearly half a century. During current peace talks involving Colombia, the FARC and four guarantor states, a Colombian senator asked the guarantors to intervene and raise the issue of child soldiers.
Deploying soldiers under the age of 18 for any armed conflict is in direct violation of the 2002 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
During Monday’s raid, security forces also captured the niece of the FARC’s third in command Felix Antonio Munoz, alias “Pastor Alape.” The rebel niece with 25 years in the ranks goes by the alias “Deisy” and is said to be the 37th Front’s third in command and in charge of the front’s communications.
Pastor Alape is said to command the Middle Magdalena Bloc of the FARC, Colombia’s largest guerrilla insurgency.