Colombia: August 10, 2001


The breakdown of negotiations with the ELN rebels has caused the army to send another 1,200 troops to the north, where the ELN are most active. Six ELN rebels were reported killed, while ELN was blamed for kidnapping seven civilians. Eight farmers were killed overnight, and the AUC was suspected.  Meanwhile, 450 kilometers northwest of the capital, 300 FARC rebels attacked a village held by 30 policemen. The police quickly received air support and the attack was repulsed. Because of the attack on the 8th, police have begin looking for tunnels near other police stations. The rebels can get away with building these tunnels (from nearby houses, because civilians know the rebels will slaughter entire families if anyone tells the police. The rebels have long used group punishment (killing entire families or villages) for disloyalty. There is little the government can do to cope with this form of terror. Although many rural Colombians supported the leftist rebels originally, the increasing alliance of the rebels and drug syndicates, rebel use of kidnapping to raise money, and rough justice meted out by rebels, has turned many of these people against the rebels. The harsh rule of the FARC in their autonomous zone has confirmed many of the worst fears of many Colombians. The AUCs ruthless tactics (killing leftist sympathizers in villages) have been popular among many Colombians, but have incurred much criticism from aid groups and foreign media. 


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