The man suspected of being the commander of the 25th Front of the
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group was
killed in fighting with the army, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos
Englio Gaona Ospina died in a clash with troops Wednesday in the mountains of the southwestern province of Tolima, Santos said.
was a key player in the FARC, acting as the link between the guerrilla
group’s Eastern Bloc and the Secretariat, or central command, Santos
The guerrilla was “the link and the one in charge of
coordinating communications,” especially with FARC commander Jorge
Briceño Suarez, known as “Mono Jojoy,” Santos said.
belonged to the FARC for 26 years and had participated in attacks on
towns, ambushes, kidnappings and sabotage since at least 1983, claiming
many victims, the defense minister said.
Santos said Ospina’s unit, which at one point had 105 fighters, was down to 10 rebels.
than 50 fighters have deserted the FARC’s 25th Front, 25 have been
captured and 15 were killed in combat, Santos said, adding that the
insurgent unit “is almost dismantled.”
The FARC, Colombia’s
oldest and largest leftist guerrilla group, was founded in 1964, has an
estimated 8,000 to 17,000 fighters and operates across a large swath of
the Andean nation.