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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 April, 2005, 22:19 GMT 23:19 UK
Top generals sacked in Colombia
Soldiers patrol the town of Toribio that has been targeted by Marxist rebels
The town of Toribio has been badly damaged in recent clashes
Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe has sacked four top army generals for reportedly disagreeing with reforms within the military.

The generals were all critics of plans to improve co-operation between the different branches of the armed forces.

The move comes as Marxist rebels have stepped up their attacks in the south-west of the country.

Mr Uribe has vowed to end a 40-year insurgency by the Farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).

Farc offensive

The dismissal of the generals was announced in a statement by Colombia's defence ministry that gave no explanation.

The statement said those fired were:

  • Maj Gen Roberto Pizarro, second-in-command of the army;
  • chief of operations Maj Gen Luis Fabio Garcia;
  • personnel chief Maj Gen Hernan Cadavid;
  • inspector-general Maj Gen Jairo Duban Pineda.

They all objected to the plans to establish regional joint commands by putting officers from the air force or navy in charge of army units.

With our assistance, Colombia has regained large portions of its territory and extended democratic justice
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

"They fired us because we didn't agree with the policy," Gen Pizarro was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

The internal battle within the army is - as always - about power, the BBC's Jeremy McDermott in Colombia says.

He says the shake-up comes as the military finds itself wrong-footed by the Farc rebels.

More than 30 people have been killed in the clashes that continued in and around the strategic south-western town of Toribio after the rebels launched their attack in February.

Instead of engaging in their trademark hit-and-run attacks, the rebels this time have stood and fought, leaving the army struggling to respond, our correspondent says.


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