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Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 00:25 GMT 01:25 UK
US charges Colombia rebels with murder
FARC rebels training in Colombia
Observers doubt the suspects can be caught
A federal grand jury in the United States has indicted Colombia's main leftist rebel group on charges of murdering three American aid workers as the Bush administration seeks to widen its war on terror.

The indictment accuses the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and six of its members by name of abducting and killing the three in 1999 as they worked to help an Indian community in the northeast.

German Briceno Suarez, also known as Grannobles
German Briceno Suarez, one of those indicted, is a FARC commander
The US Attorney General, John Ashcroft, said that Washington should work with the Colombian authorities to catch the suspects.

He is among those in the Bush administration who want to expand the United States' war on drugs in Colombia in order to cut the supply of money and weapons to rebel groups.

"Today the United States strikes back at the FARC reign of terror against the United States and its citizens," said Mr Ashcroft.

Aid worker killings
The dead Americans: Terence Freitas, Ingrid Washinawatok, Lahee'Enae Gay
The FARC suspects: German Briceno Suarez, El Marrano "The Pig", Jeronimo, Gustavo Bocota Aguablanca, Nelson Vargas Rueda and Dumar

"Just as we fight terrorism in the mountains of south Asia, we will fight terrorism in our own hemisphere."

Colombia's ambassador in Washington, Luis Alberto Moreno, confirmed that the six FARC members would be extradited if caught in his country.

All are thought to be at liberty in Colombia, where the 16,500-strong FARC has been fighting the government for decades.

Washington has added FARC to its official list of terrorist groups, as Mr Ashcroft emphasized on Tuesday:

"Despite its attempts to portray itself as a band of revolutionaries or of freedom fighters, today's indictment describes the FARC as a fiercely anti-American terrorist organisation."

See also:

27 Feb 02 | Americas
Bush denies Colombia military aid
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