BOGOTA (AFP) – At least seven police officers were killed and seven wounded when gunmen from the FARC rebel group ambushed their convoy Tuesday in remote northwestern Colombia, officials said.
“This is a cowardly attack that deserves condemnation by all Colombians,” President Juan Manuel Santos said during a speech in which he attributed the violence to the FARC and Colombia’s “Clan Usuga” criminal gang.
Colombia is the scene of a 50-year-old conflict between the government and leftist rebels that has at times also drawn in drug traffickers and right-wing paramilitary groups.
The area where the attack occurred, the northwestern region of Uraba, has been a haven for armed groups since the 1960s because of its mountainous terrain, tropical forests and remote location along the Panama border.
“I have given instruction to all the heads of our military forces, reinforcing the need to continue the offensive against these organisations,” Santos said.
Violence has continued in Colombia even though the government is holding peace talks with the FARC, the largest guerrilla group, and has announced preliminary talks with the second-largest group, the National Liberation Army (ELN).
The conflict has killed 220,000 people and caused more than five million to flee their homes since the 1960s.
The defence ministry condemned the latest attack on its Twitter account, labeling the gunmen “terrorists” and calling it “unacceptable and cowardly to ambush and murder our uniformed officers.”