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Leftist Rebels Kill 11 in Colombia

May 24, 2005

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Suspected leftist guerrillas carrying assault rifles swept into a southern Colombia town Tuesday and attacked government offices, killing 11 people, including six town council members, authorities said.

The guerrillas, believed to be members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, opened fire at a local council meeting in the town of Puerto Rico, 200 miles south of Bogota, said Oscar Galvis, an official with Colombia’s secret police DAS.

Oscar Andres Nunez, director of the National Federation of Town Councils said in a statement that several trucks full of FARC guerrillas arrived to the town’s main square, where the town hall is located, and began shooting. He said the guerrillas also fired on and threw grenades at a police station located in the town center.

Police identified the victims as six town council members, four police officers and a town official.

It was unclear whether there were any FARC casualties.

Puerto Rico, a town of 25,000 residents, is located in Caqueta state in a region that has been a FARC stronghold for many years.

The FARC and a smaller rebel group have been fighting the government for social revolution for four decades. The conflict, which also includes right-wing paramilitary fighters, kills more than 3,000 people _ mostly civilians _ each year.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe began a military offensive against the 12,000-strong FARC last year that is heavily funded by the U.S. government. The offensive has succeeded in reducing the FARC’s numbers, but a string of recent deadly attacks have shown the rebels are still capable of delivering deadly blows to the armed forces and civilian populations.

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