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Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, 23:49 GMT
Colombia rebels end New Year truce

Colombian military A new anti-rebel force is to be deployed


By Jeremy McDermott in Bogota

Rebels in Colombia have ended their Christmas holiday ceasefire by launching attacks on three towns near the southern border with Ecuador.

The authorities said at least 24 people have been killed in fighting between the security forces and the rebels belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or Farc.

US military aid

Police said more than 200 rebels were involved in the attack and that the Farc used gas cylinders packed with explosives to destroy buildings.

The attacks are the first since the US announcement of a $1.6bn aid package.

Most of the money is for military aid and the creation of two more US-trained and equipped anti-narcotic battalions. About 60 new helicopters will be included in the package.

Lying in wait

Farc sources speaking from the guerrilla safe haven in the south of Colombia, granted the rebels for peace talks, said they were not unduly concerned by increased US help.

The sources in San Vicente del Caguan, the capital of the guerrilla safe haven, said they were waiting for the US troops to deploy before destroying them.

The first US-trained battalion, which was deployed last December, has been tasked with attacking the drugs trade in the southern border province of Putomayo.

The area is not only the principal drug growing region of the country but also a Farc stronghold.

The guerrillas are known to earn at least $100m a year from the drugs trade.

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See also:
12 Jan 00 |  Americas
Colombia welcomes US financial aid
15 Dec 99 |  Americas
Colombian army hits back at rebels
08 Dec 99 |  Americas
Colombia unveils new anti-rebel force
29 Nov 99 |  Americas
Journalists killed in Colombia
13 Dec 99 |  Americas
Colombian troops re-take navy base
20 Dec 99 |  Americas
Colombia truce follows Christmas card offensive

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