Colombian Defense Ministry says top guerrilla dead

The Colombian Defense Ministry said Saturday that it has information from various intelligence sources that the legendary leader of Latin America's largest guerrilla army is dead. In a statement, the ministry said "we have learned through different military intelligence means" that the commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda, died on March 26. "We know that inside the FARC, the version is that he died of natural causes, specifically from a heart attack," the ministry said. Marulanda is believed to be about 80. First word of Marulanda's possible death came earlier Saturday when the newsmagazine Semana quoted Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos as saying he had information that Marulanda died in the guerrillas' southern Colombian stronghold at the time of three bombing raids. "Whether the death of Marulanda came in a bombardment or from natural causes, this would be the most serious blow this terrorist group has suffered," the Defense Ministry statement said.