Colombia's Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon.
(photo credit: Reuters)
BOGOTA - Colombian forces killed the FARC rebel leader Alfonso Cano in combat, delivering another serious blow to Latin America's longest guerrilla insurgency, the defense ministry said on Friday.
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The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has been battered by a US-backed military campaign started in 2002 and the waning insurgency has lost several key commanders in the last four years.
The death of Cano, who took over leadership of the rebels after their
founder died in 2008, is a strategic victory for President Juan Manuel
Santos. He came to office last year promising to keep up a hardline
stance against the guerrillas.
Cano's death follows the killing late last year of top FARC military
commander Mono Jojoy in a bombardment and assault on his camp.
The strike against Cano underscores how Colombia's military can now attack rebel leaders deep in mountains and jungles.
While unlikely to bring a swift end to nearly five decades of war,
Cano's death will further damage the rebel group's ability to regroup
and coordinate high-profile attacks.
Once a powerful force controlling large swaths of Colombia, the FARC is
now at its weakest in decades. Violence, bombings and kidnappings from
the conflict have eased sharply.