At least six people have been killed and more than 20 injured in an attack on a police station in the western Colombian town of Villa Rica by suspected Leftist rebels, media reports citing local officials said late on Thursday.
Officials said homemade mortars and gas cylinders laden with explosives were used in the attack, which took place when at least 18 police officers were inside the station. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Colombian authorities blamed the Leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels.
The attack in Villa Rica came a day after six people were killed and more than 70 others injured in a bombing attack on a police station in the southern Colombian city of Tumaco. That attack was also blamed on the FARC. Police believe the attack targeted regional police commander Gen. Jorge Nieto Rojas, who escaped the bombing unhurt.
The FARC rebels have been fighting the Colombian government for almost five decades in Latin America's longest-running insurgency. They are seeking to impose a Leftist regime in the country, which would redistribute land more equitably among its impoverished population.
The outfit is accused of using money generated from smuggling cocaine to fund its insurgency. The FARC insurgents still carry out attacks on Colombian security forces and other targets despite tough security measures enforced by former President Alvaro Uribe, who completed his term in office last August.
The strong anti-militant policies and related military operations initiated by Uribe since he first took office in 2002 had put the rebel group on the defensive. Recent escalation in FARC attacks came despite a series of successes for the Colombian government in its campaign against the rebel group.
Counter-insurgency operations by the Colombian security forces had resulted in the killing of FARC commanders Raul Reye and Jorge Briceno, also known as Mono Jojoy, in aerial bombings in 2008 and 2010 respectively.
Another FARC leader, Alfonso Cano, was killed in a military raid in the country's south-western mountainous region on November 4, 2011. Cano's death was seen as a major victory for President Juan Manuel Santos, who had pledged soon after assuming office in August 2010 to crackdown hard on the rebel group.
President Santos has since rejected a FARC offer to begin peace talks, insisting that such negotiations would be possible only if the rebel group renounced violence and released all hostages. In an effort to show its commitment to future peace talks with the government, the group recently released several people it had been holding hostage for years.
by RTT Staff Writer
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