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Monday, 30 April, 2001, 05:48 GMT 06:48 UK
Colombia clashes 'kill 20'
FARC rebels
FARC rebels have been fighting the army for 37 years
Clashes between the Colombian army and left-wing rebels are reported to have left 20 people dead in the north-western province of Antioquia.

Army officials said 15 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) had been gunned down. Five soldiers were also killed in the clash.

AUC leader, Carlos Castano
The US has listed Carlos Castano's paramilitary group as a terrorist organisation
Recently, the area has seen intense fighting between leftist rebels, outlawed right-wing paramilitary groups and government troops.

Meanwhile, the United States announced that one paramilitary group, the Self-Defence Units of Colombia (AUC), is to be listed as a terrorist organisation.

But, unlike left-wing rebel movements, the right-wing paramilitaries are not perceived as a threat to US national security, and Washington is not expected to take any measures against them.

Elusive peace

The AUC, which has about 8,000 fighters, is believed to be responsible for the majority of the escalating killings which are plaguing the country.

Last year about 236 attacks are believed to have claimed over 1,200 lives.

Under the leadership of Carlos Castano, the AUC also opposes any attempts by President Andres Pastrana's government to hold peace talks with the left-wing rebels.

The AUC paramilitaries have complicated government efforts to begin formal negotiations with the rebel National Liberation Army (ELN) - which is smaller than the Farc - by attacking the group's established bases in the northern Bolivar province.

Peace talks between the largest rebel group, the Farc, and the government began two years ago, but so far no ceasefire has been agreed.

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See also:

23 Apr 01 | Americas
Colombia probes rebel 'drugs links'
29 Mar 01 | Americas
Hidden costs of Plan Colombia
04 Feb 01 | Americas
Analysis: FARC holds all the cards
15 Feb 01 | Americas
Thousands flee Colombian violence
26 Aug 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Glamour in the jungle
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