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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 12:39 GMT
Colombia thwarts rebel dam attack
FARC rebels
FARC rebels have been waging war for more than 35 years
Colombia's military planes have bombarded rebel forces to prevent an attack on a dam that provides water to the capital Bogota, a senior military commander has said.

Chief of Colombia's Air Force operations General Gonzalo Morales said 20 rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were killed in the operation near the Chuza dam, to the south-east of the capital.

General Morales said that if the FARC rebels had blown up the dam it could have flooded the Guatiquia River and caused a "great impact" on the nearby provincial city of Villavicencio.

However, General Morales did not elaborate on how authorities had concluded that the rebels had planned the attack, or why the news of the Friday operation was released only three days later.

The FARC have recently intensified their attacks on Colombia's infrastructure, launching several attacks on energy pylons and oil pipelines.

They are the country's largest guerilla group, and have been engaged in a civil war for more than 35 years.

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