Successor To Killed FARC Leader Named
9/28/2010 4:55 AM ET
Colombia's Leftist guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has named a successor to one of its top military commanders who was killed in a military air strike five days ago.
Víctor Julio Suarez Rojas, also known as Jorge Briceno Suarez, was killed in an operation by government forces last week in the Macarena region of FARC stronghold.
A FARC executive committee meeting on Monday decided to replace him with 51-year-old Felix Munoz, alias Pastor Alapa.
In an online statement, the guerrilla group vowed to intensify its fight to topple the Colombian government.
President Jose Manuel Santos, who took over the Presidential reigns and fight against rebels from his predecessor Alvaro Uribe last month, described the key FARC leader's death as "the hardest blow" in the nearly half-a-century-old history of the rebel movement.
Wanted by the U.S. for killing three of its citizens, terrorism and narcotics trafficking activities, Rojas was heading FARC's strongest fighting division, the Eastern Bloc.
Colombian security forces had been on the look out for him for almost ten years. Fondly called by his followers as Mono Jojoy, the FARC leader carried a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest or conviction.
The Colombian military had killed 22 FARC guerrillas by bombing a jungle rebel camp near the Ecuadorean border last Sunday. It was the result of an operation targeting FARC rebels who killed eight policemen in an ambush earlier this month in the town of San Miguel in Putumayo province.
Around 50 policemen and soldiers were killed this month in a series of attacks by the outlawed extremists.
Founded 46 years ago, FARC is the largest Leftist guerrilla group of the South American country with an estimated cadre-strength of 17,000.
Meanwhile, Senator Piedad Cordoba, a known mediator in the conflict, was stripped of her Congressional membership for her alleged links with FARC.
Colombia's Attorney-General Alejandro Ordonez also banned her from holding public office for 18 years.
by RTT Staff Writer