Bogota (AFP) Sept 24, 2010
A bold Colombian assault on a rebel camp has killed the military leader of the nation's oldest insurgency in what defense officials are calling the "hardest blow ever" against the leftist guerrillas.
Ground troops supported by helicopters and warplanes stormed the fortified camp, killing the feared war commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) known as Mono Jojoy, officials said.
The Defense Ministry here late Thursday released the first pictures of the dead leader, sending six images to the media that apparently showed him wrapped in bloody camouflaged material. The man's bruised and swollen face is shown but without the mustache that the rebel famously wore.
Bogota confirmed the death of Jorge Briceno Suarez, 57, in a raid on a rebel stronghold in the Meta department in central Colombia involving up to 800 troops including elite special forces.
President Juan Manuel Santos described the raid as "the hardest blow ever" in the history of the guerrilla movement.
"The symbol of terror in Colombia has fallen," Santos told reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Military officials said the attack was launched Wednesday 1:00 am (0500 GMT), and that soldiers found Briceno's body on Thursday.
Some 20 other rebels were killed in the coordinated military attack, which included jets dropping "smart bombs" on fortified positions.
The military said that 72 warplanes, including 30 helicopters, low-flying Super Tucano attack planes and Israeli-built Kfir jets, were involved in the attack, dubbed "Operation Sodom."
Also killed were three senior rebel leaders, including a member of the FARC directorate, a regional military commander, and the head of the group's urban militias, according to the military.
The information the military obtained "was so precise that practically it was as if we had obtained a household address," a military source told AFP.
"This was the mother of the FARC camps, the heart," Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera told reporters.
Rivera then called on FARC leader Alfonso Cano to surrender. "We guarantee you will live and receive just treatment under the law," he said
Rivera denied reports that there were hostages in the camp during the raid. He added that forces found "some small notes, but it would not be prudent or smart to reveal their contents."
The attack is a serious blow to the 46 year-old leftist insurgency, which has suffered the death of several top leaders since March 2008, when troops killed FARC's second-in-command Raul Reyes.
Officials in Washington described Briceno as a key player directing the FARC's drug-trafficking operations, including the production and distribution of hundreds of tonnes of cocaine around the world.
The United States had offered a reward of up to five million dollars for information leading to Briceno's arrest or conviction.
"This is an important victory for Colombia," said Mike Hammer, national security spokesman for US President Barack Obama.
Briceno, also known as Victor Julio Suarez Rojas, is believed to have been involved in the kidnapping of three US hostages who spent years in captivity in the Colombian jungle.
The trio was freed in July 2008, at the same time that kidnapped former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt was released.
Researcher Ariel Avila, who is studying the guerrilla conflict, said the loss of Briceno was "devastating" to the FARC.
"He was a myth, he was the lord" of the guerrillas, Avila told AFP, adding that he believed this would lead to disintegration or demobilization of some units.
Briceno, nicknamed Mono -- Colombian slang for blonde -- for his light-colored hair, was the son of farmers who joined the FARC in 1975. He had 62 warrants for his arrest.
Colombia's rebel groups, including the FARC, stepped up their attacks in the weeks following the August 7 inauguration of Santos, who had promised to keep pressure on the insurgents.
Santos vowed to "redouble" the military's offensive against the guerrillas after 40 police and military officers were killed earlier this month.
The Colombian president had rejected a FARC offer of peace talks, calling on them to first free dozens of hostages and stop recruiting minors.
Santos, asked if the operation was supported by the United States, which has access rights to seven Colombian military bases under a controversial bilateral agreement, said it was "100 percent Colombian."
The FARC is the oldest and largest leftist group in Colombia with an estimated 8,000 combatants. Another leftist guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army, has some 2,500 fighters.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Obama says world must back Middle East peace bid
United Nations (AFP) Sept 23, 2010
US President Barack Obama on Thursday appealed for global support for his efforts to end the Middle East peace deadlock, warning that "more blood will be shed" if it fails. Obama told the opening day of the UN General Assembly that there was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a Palestinian state if key nations in the region and world powers throw their weight behind his new drive. ... read more
Russia, NATO Should Fully Analyze Missile Threat To Europe|
Second Generation Aegis BMD Capability Completes Formal Testing
Russian Air-Defense Bases Require Additional Protection
Northrop Grumman to Bid For Missile Defense Objective Simulation Framework
Russia caving to US pressure in missile sale ban: Iran
Sweden Signs Production Order Contract For Meteor Missile
Russia missiles to Syria spark Israeli ire
Russia in 300-million-dollar missile deal with Syria: report
Boeing Wins DARPA Vulture II Program
US drone strike kills six in northwest Pakistan: officials
EADS Continues Flight Test Campaign Of Barracuda
US drone strikes kill 17 militants in Pakistan
Modern infrastructures said 'vulnerable'
MEADS Completes CDR And Is Ready For Flight Test
Airborne Multi-Intelligence Lab Demonstrates Intelligence Integration
Boeing Vigilare Enters Service With RAAF
Reaper joins British air force in combat
Russia destroys chemical weapons stockpile
Textron And MDT Armor Team On Tiger Light Armored Vehicle
BAE To Debut New South African-Designed And Developed SD-ROW Turret
Russia to unlock major cash for arms
EU risks US-China domination with military cuts: France
Lockheed gets deal for F-35s
Indonesia Confirms Plans To Buy Six More Su Fighters From Russia
China will not buckle on national interests: premier
Japan's blink in stand-off seen as win for assertive China
Power struggle pits mayor against Kremlin
Facebook's Zuckerberg unveils 100 million dollar school gift
Boeing Receives Task Order For Design Of Free Electron Laser Lab Demonstrator
Lasers could protect helicopters from harm
New System Developed To Test And Evaluate High-Energy Laser Weapons
Truck-borne laser weapon to be on way soon
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|