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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December, 2004, 08:38 GMT
Colombia captures rebel 'envoy'
Colombian security forces escort Farc rebel Rodrigo Granda
Police say Rodrigo Granda has spent 30 years fighting the state
Colombian security forces have captured a man they describe as one of the top ambassadors for the country's biggest guerrilla group, the Farc.

Police said the arrest of Rodrigo Granda Escobar, allegedly in charge of the guerrillas' contacts with friendly governments, was highly significant.

In another move, the army said it had caught a man who headed some of the rebels' drug trafficking operations.

The arrests are the latest in a series of government blows against the rebels.

The arrest of Rodrigo Granda, known as the rebels' "foreign minister" was an important strike, National Police Chief Jorge Daniel Castro told reporters.

"He was responsible for a campaign of disinformation that hurt the international reputation of Colombia over the last 10 years, principally in Europe and Latin America," he said.

Mr Granda had visited 16 countries over the past decade trying to build support for the rebels from friendly governments and organisations, Chief Castro said.

He was caught in the town of Cucuta, on the Venezuelan border.

Paraded at a news conference in Bogota, Mr Granda shouted, "Long live the Farc! Long live Manuel!" - a reference to the Farc's overall chief, Manuel Marulanda.

On the run

In another operation, the army said it had captured Erminson Cabrera, brother of one of the Farc's most senior commanders.

Mr Cabrera, whose brother fights under the alias of Fabian Ramirez and heads the rebels' southern bloc, was captured in the centre of Colombia.

The authorities accuse him of running some of the guerrillas' drug smuggling operations.

President Alvaro Uribe's government has launched a series of relentless offensives against the Farc, backed by the United States.

The question now is whether the guerrillas are really on the run or whether, as they insist, they are biding their time, says the BBC's Colombia correspondent, Jeremy McDermott.

With news of each success, Colombians are beginning to believe the government propaganda that the rebels are in full flight, our correspondent says, and it is clear that the Farc does now have a shortage of middle and senior-ranking commanders.

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