At least 16 dead in rebel attacks in Colombia
Jul 31, 2006, 22:21 GMT
Bogota - At least 15 soldiers died in Colombia Monday in a rebel ambush in the town of Tibu while a car bomb in Bogota killed one person and injured 22 others, one week before the country's president is due to be inaugurated for a second term.
Both attacks were blamed on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the largest rebel group in the country, and are viewed as acts of sabotage ahead of next Monday's inauguration ceremony for incumbent Alvaro Uribe, who is set to begin his second term in office.
An army patrol was attacked around mid day by FARC rebels, Manuel Luna, government secretary of the Norte de Santander region, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
Tibu Mayor Bernardo Betancur told dpa that the soldiers were ambushed as they reacted to a phone call reporting a car bomb explosion in the area.
In a separate incident, a homeless man died in the early morning explosion of a car bomb in Bogota, while an army officer, 15 rank- and-file soldiers and six civilians were injured, said General Gustavo Matamoros, commander of the 13th Brigade of the Colombian Army.
According to Matamoros, the characteristics of the attack indicate that it was likely carried out by FARC. About 20 kilogrammes of explosives were used, he said.
'We have frustrated four attempts, and they managed to carry out one (attack) today,' he said.
In August 2002, during Uribe's first inauguration, FARC rebels fired several home-made mortar shells against the seat of the Colombian government, killing 21 people.
The Marxist FARC is the largest rebel group in Colombia, with about 17,000 armed men and women, and has been fighting the central government for 40 years.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur