Fears over new FARC offensive

By bogotapost July 30, 2014

Amid attacks on power lines, an aqueduct and a series of bombings, army repositions troops

By Steven Grattan

MINISTRO DICE QUE ATENTADOS DE FARC PUEDEN ACABAR CON LA PACIENCIA DEL PUEBLOAn eruption of FARC attacks in the past week has resulted in the death of a soldier, the deployment of 300 troops and tens of thousands being left without running water or electricity.

The most recent assault took place on the evening of July 29 in the Pacific coastal port town of Buenaventura. The incident left 500,000 people without power after an electricity tower was overturned, according to local media.

Commander of the Colombian Navy Admiral Paul Romero made a statement saying that the ‘terrorist activity’ in the region knocked out power to the port city, triggering an emergency situation in hospitals, health centers, and educational institutions.

Buenaventura hosts Colombia’s largest port where more than 50 percent of imports enter the country. The region is known as a FARC stronghold.

In Putamayo, a deadly offensive was carried out against a group of soldiers on the evening of Friday July 18.

According to authorities, Colombia’s largest guerrilla group FARC was again responsible. The group is said to have used cylinder bombs to ambush the soldiers nine kilometres from Puerto Asis, leaving one dead and three injured.

Jaime Silva, secretary of the region, told Blu Radio that “there is a tragic toll to this attack and all fingers point to the FARC.”

Since the incident, Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón has confirmed that 300 troops will be sent to the region at the start of August to step up ground force and to reinforce security. In recent weeks FARC has also targeted various tanks transporting oil from Putumayo.

Another strike took place at an aqueduct in Meta, located in central Colombia, on Saturday 26 July, leaving 16,000 people without access to running water. Authorities are stating that FARC is again responsible.

Army Commander General Emilio Torres criticized the group’s actions, saying, “This attack is a barefaced violation of international humanitarian laws.”

A further incident on Sunday July 27 saw an army base in the south-western town of Pasto targeted, leaving two injured and over 50 homes affected.

Local media reports that two cylinders loaded with 30 kilograms of Amatol and fertilizers were detonated by remote control at the grounds of the military base. One of the cylinders broke out into an adjoining house which was left in ruins, according to police reports.