Colombian FARC leader ′Guacho′ killed in raid | News | DW | 22.12.2018
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Colombian FARC leader 'Guacho' killed in raid

Walter Arizala led a small holdout armed faction behind a rising wave of drug-related violence and killings. Nearly 2,000 FARC rebel fighters have refused to lay down their arms following a 2016 peace accord.

Colombian dissident rebel Walter Patricio Arizala has been killed in an operation by the country's armed forces, President Ivan Duque said on Friday.

Arizala, who was part of the Oliver Sinisterra Front — a faction of the now defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) — was the subject of a monthslong manhunt after he kidnapped and shot dead three Ecuadorean media workers earlier this year.

Colombia and neighboring Ecuador had each offered $100,000 (€88,000) for information leading to his capture.

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Wanted dead or alive

The government deployed more than 3,000 troops to catch the 29-year-old "dead or alive." His killing took place near the border with Ecuador, Duque said in a televised statement.

"The message is clear; we won't take a step back in the defense of legality, life, honor and the property of Colombians," the president said. "Many Colombian communities will sleep well because one of the most horrendous criminals the country has known is dead."

Better known by his alias Guacho, the former FARC leader was one of the most wanted fugitives among Colombia's sprawling criminal underworld.

His small holdout faction of a few dozen guerrillas abandoned the country's 2016 peace process and was accused of drug trafficking, extortion and homicide across Colombia's volatile Narino state, which is home to the country's largest harvest of illegal coca crops.

His death follows the slaying of another notorious dissident FARC leader, David Segura, in September.

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Slain journalists

In March, Arizala was behind the kidnapping of three newspaper workers from Ecuador's El Comercio newspaper, who were later found slain, Colombian authorities said.

The media crew was reporting on violence in the Esmeraldas region of the border when Arizala's gang snatched them.

A proof-of-life photograph released shortly after their abduction showed them chained and padlocked by their necks. Arizala later shot them in the head.

Almost 1,800 ex-FARC fighters in 30 units nationwide have refused to keep to the terms of the country's 2016 peace accord, and have continued their cocaine trafficking operations.

The FARC, which battled for more than a half-century before demobilizing, attacked military targets and civilian towns but generally allowed journalists to work freely, unless they went against the rebels' interests.

mm/tj (AP, Reuters)

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