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
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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.


Sri Lanka churches halt public services over security fears

Updated 26 April 2019
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Sri Lanka churches halt public services over security fears

  • Potential bombers ‘at large’ as death toll lowered to 253
  • Muslims asked to shun Friday prayer

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s Catholic churches suspended all public services over security fears on Thursday, as thousands of troops joined the hunt for suspects in deadly Easter bombings.

A senior priest said that all public services were being suspended and all churches closed “on the advice of security forces.”

Authorities revised the death toll down to 253, from the previous figure of 359, explaining that some of the badly mutilated bodies had been double-counted.

The father of two of the suspected bombers has been arrested on suspicion of aiding his sons.

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said suspects remained at large and could have access to explosives. Some of the suspects “may go out for a suicide attack,” Wickremesinghe said.

Hundreds of Ahmadi refugees in western Sri Lanka have taken refuge in mosques and a police station after facing intimidation following the bombings. Scores of Ahmadis who settled in Negombo after fleeing persecution in their home countries have been thrown out of their accommodation by landlords.

Sri Lanka’s Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando resigned on Thursday over security failures. He submitted a letter of resignation to President Maithripala Sirisena.

Britain’s Foreign Office advised against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka.

“The horrific attack is a demonstration of how tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) that originated in this island nation several decades ago returned to haunt a shocked and broken government thanks to a complete collapse of counterterrorism capability or capacity,” Dr. Theodore Karasik, a security expert, writes in an opinion piece.

Hate preacher Zahran Hashim, head of the National Thowheeth Jama’ath group that is being blamed for the attacks, developed a reputation as a preacher who “copied” Daesh propaganda videos to enhance his posts via the pro-Daesh Al-Ghuraba media channel, which used Facebook and YouTube as its primary platforms, Karasik says. 

Sri Lanka’s Islamic affairs minister, M. H. M. Haleem, asked all Muslims to avoid prayers on Friday for security reasons. He also said it would be a mark of respect for those who perished in the nation’s worst violence in years.

Politician and Western Province Gov. Azath Salley told Arab News that the blasts were orchestrated by a handful of extremists and that the island’s Muslim population could not be held responsible for their “deviant” actions.