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Wednesday, 15 December, 1999, 22:48 GMT
Colombian army hits back at rebels

Mourners Distraught relatives of Colombian marines killed earlier this week


Dozens of communist rebels are reported to have been killed by security forces in southeast Colombia, just days after the insurgents inflicted heavy losses on the military.

A 300-strong group of rebels of the Farc movement (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) is said to have been hit by government fighter planes.

Sixty guerrillas were reportedly killed, but there has been no independent confirmation of the death toll.

The rebels had been attacking the colonial town of Hobo when the air force struck.

"The guerrillas wanted to carry out a demolition job [on the town] but this time they could not," police operations director, General Alfonso Arellano, said.


Andres Pastrana Mr Pastrana wants the rebels to agree to a truce
Television pictures suggested that Hobo had been badly damaged in the assault.

At least 45 marines were reported to have died in a rebel attack earlier this week on a Colombian navy base on the Pacific coast.

The raid by hundreds of Farc guerrillas on the Jurado base was described as the navy's heaviest defeat.

Ceasefire

The Colombian military said a counter-attack involving a battleship and hundreds of troops successfully retook the base.

The latest rebel attack comes a day before peace negotiations between Farc and the government were due to resume.

President Andres Pastrana on Monday condemned Farc's attacks on the navy base and renewed his call for the rebels to agree to a month-long truce.

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See also:
13 Dec 99 |  Americas
Colombian troops re-take navy base
08 Dec 99 |  Americas
Colombia unveils new anti-rebel force
29 Nov 99 |  Americas
Journalists killed in Colombia

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