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Colombian Commander Says 67 Rebels Killed

June 15, 2003

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Colombia bombarded leftist rebel camps and killed an estimated 67 insurgents, the air force commander said Saturday. The report could not be immediately verified.

Gen. Hector Fabio Velasco told RCN television that the rebels were killed in two separate attacks in southern Meta and Cauca states. He didn’t say when the attacks occurred nor did he say to which rebel army the fighters belonged.

Attempts to reach air force and defense ministry officials for further comment were unsuccessful. An army spokesman said he had no knowledge of the aerial bombardments.

Meanwhile, gunmen shot and killed a town councilman and three relatives as they were leaving a farmhouse in western Colombia, a politician said Saturday.

Adelmo Sanchez, his two brothers and a cousin were gunned down late Friday in the village of Buenavista, some 30 miles west of Bogota, Alvaro Ayala told Radionet Saturday.

Ayala, who served as a town councilman with Sanchez in the nearby town of Viota, said it was unclear who the gunmen were. But he said he suspected right-wing paramilitary fighters who have been kidnapping and assassinating people in the region in recent weeks.

The area is also rife with fighters from the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, who late last year threatened to kill local politicians and government officials unless they resigned.

The FARC and a smaller rebel army are fighting the paramilitaries and the government in a 39-year conflict that kills some 3,500 people annually, mostly civilians.

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