The incident occurred in the municipality of Vista Hermosa and was carried out by Colombian security forces based in the Apiay military base near Meta’s capital Villavicencio.
Speaking ahead of a Monday Security Council meeting in Villavicencio, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said, “The offensive continues. Congratulations to the military because it was an operation fully coordinated between the Air Force, Army, Police and Navy.”
The operation commenced at 3.30AM on Monday morning and, according to Santos, the guerrillas had been members of the Abelardo Romero Column in the FARC’s 54th Front. As well as the deaths, it was reported that four guerrillas were captured, including at least one of the group’s leaders.
Santos also announced the Sunday capture of six guerrillas, including one senior commander, in the Meta municipality of Restrepo. The captured were reported to be members of the FARC’s 53rd Front.
The incident came less than a week after 33 guerrillas were killed in a bombardment of a camp carried out by Colombian security forces in the northern department of Arauca. The bombardment completed two days of security forces action which left 39 guerrillas dead and 12 captured in the region.
Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon described last week’s operation as the biggest blow against the FARC in the past five years, meaning Monday’s incident marks an extremely bloody week for the guerrillas.
While the incident last week was purportedly a reaction to a FARC ambush which left 11 soldiers dead on Saturday 17 March, it was unclear if Monday’s attack was provoked or intended as a show of force amidst continued FARC intransigence over the release of ten security force personnel, which was again delayed Sunday.