Ten killed in Colombia clash with FARC splinter group

About 1,700 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are still in the insurgent struggle funded by drug money, Colombian military intelligence say. (AFP)
Updated 03 February 2019

Ten killed in Colombia clash with FARC splinter group

  • Some 7,000 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia have laid down their arms
  • About 1,700 are still in the insurgent struggle funded by drug money

BOGOTA: Colombia’s armed forces clashed Saturday with FARC dissident rebels, killing 10 from the group that split from the 2016 peace process.
Army special forces and police launched an operation in Caqueta department, in which a longtime group leader Rodrigo Cadete, 52, was killed.
“Another nine guerrillas we killed; we have several captures and the fighting continues in the region,” Defense chief Guillermo Botero said in a statement in Manizales.
Though some 7,000 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) laid down their arms, about 1,700 are still in the insurgent struggle funded by drug money, military intelligence says.
With no unified command, dissidents operate in remote areas where they fight other groups to control drug trafficking and drug trafficking routes.
Colombia has experienced relative calm since the 2016 peace deal signed by then-president Juan Manuel Santos and FARC rebels.
With the landmark agreement turning the FARC into a political party, the smaller ELN is considered the last active rebel group in the country.
True to his election promises, President Ivan Duque, who took office last August, has taken a hard line against the ELN, including his demand they release all hostages as a prerequisite to kick-starting their peace process.


Families grieve after Kabul wedding blast

An Afghan man mourns during the funeral of his brother after a bomb exploded at a wedding hall killing 63 people and injuring 200 others. (Reuters)
Updated 19 August 2019

Families grieve after Kabul wedding blast

  • Bride’s relatives, members of music band among victims of Daesh attack

KABUL: Mirwais Elmi’s special night soon became a bloodbath after a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the hotel hall where his wedding ceremony was taking place, killing more than 63 people and injuring 200 others in Kabul on Sunday. Elmi and his bride, who were in separate areas of the venue, survived the blast. The explosion took place just before dinner was to be served to the nearly 1,000 guests who had gathered in the southwest of the city.
The local Daesh affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack Speaking to a private TV channel on Sunday, a shaken Elmi was unable to describe the carnage that took place.
“I am not a groom today, my family, my friends are all in grief,” Elmi, who is in his early 20s and works as a tailor, said.
He added that he never thought “such an incident would happen during my wedding party.”
As survivors buried victims of the attack, an infant’s milk bottle and an invitation card could be seen near one of the hotel’s walls, badly damaged by the blast.
The attack comes as the US and Taliban close in on a peace deal which would lead to the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, nearly 18 years after the Taliban were ousted. The group immediately distanced themselves from the attack and strongly condemned it.
Elmi’s father-in-law lost 14 members of his family, while another man lost three of his sons, four nephews and five of his aunt’s grandchildren, according to survivor accounts.
“My family and my bride are in shock, they cannot speak. My bride keeps fainting. I lost my brother, I lost my friends, I lost my relatives. I will never see happiness in my life again,” he said. All five members of the wedding’s music band were killed. The groom and bride’s families, like many of those attending the ceremony, belonged to poor families.  
None of the guests were government officials sought by Daesh or other militant groups.

Government leaders live behind heavily protected compounds, drive in armored vehicles and have their families living abroad, but we ordinary Afghans are suffering routinely.

Ghulam Hussien Nasiri, Lawmaker

Many of the victims were children and young men. The hotel had no guards and guests were not body searched, according to survivors.
Shi’ite cultural centers and an anti-government protest have all recently come under attack, but Sunday’s wedding blast was the first of its kind, evoking a reaction from President Ashraf Ghani. He blamed Daesh for the incident. “I strongly condemn the inhumane attack on the wedding hall in Kabul. My top priority for now is to reach out to the families of victims of this barbaric attack. On behalf of the nation, I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were martyred. “The Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide a platform for terrorists,” he tweeted.
Ghulam Hussien Nasiri, a lawmaker, said the attack exposed the government’s weakness.
“Government leaders live behind heavily protected compounds, drive in armored vehicles and have their families living abroad, but we ordinary Afghans are suffering routinely,” he told Arab News.