Colombia’s Defense Minister Gabriel Silva announced Wednesday the creation of a new mountain battalion for the south-western department of Cauca, which has become an epicenter of FARC activity in recent months.
According to Silva, the army battalion, which will be the second in the region after the army’s 4th Batallion which located in Cauca four years ago, will be based in the town of Toribio, and will be led by a colonel experienced in guerrilla combat.
Despite the plethora of recent rebel attacks in Cauca, Silva noted that the nature of these attacks have changed over the years, supporting the notion that the FARC on are on the defensive.
“The scale of these [FARC] actions are different from those a few years ago,” Silva said, explaining that the FARC are now using more small-scale operations with individual actors to infiltrate civilian populations and carry out attacks.
Silva went on to explain that the FARC activity in Cauca is merely a reaction to the pressure that the guerilla organization is feeling from the authorities.
“In Cauca, the indiscriminate and disruptive attacks concern us, but they are nothing more than the FARC’s reaction to the pressure from Colombia’s armed forces that is trying to thwart their use of this area as a corridor for drug trafficking,” Silva explained.
The department of Cauca, specifically, the towns of Caldono and Caloto, have been the scene of nearly daily battles between FARC guerillas and Colombian soldiers.
On Wednesday, a 5-year-old boy was killed, and two policemen were injured, during a FARC raid on a police station in the municipality of Siberia, in Cauca.
Last week, at least eight people died in Cauca after heavy fighting broke out between FARC rebels and the army.
According to security officials, the Cauca region is of strategic importance for the trafficking of drugs and guns through Colombia, in addition to the movement of rebel groups between the center and southwestern parts of the country.