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Colombian Air Force Bombs Rebels

By Associated Press

April 3, 2002, 9:48 PM EST

BOGOTA, Colombia -- The Colombian Air Force bombed a rebel column in the south, killing at least 40 guerrillas, an air force colonel said Wednesday.
The rebels were discovered on a highway built by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, 125 miles south of Bogota, according to Col. Flavio Ulloa.

Bombers were sent into the area Tuesday night and air force officials showed the press a videotape of the operation. People could be seen fleeing the attack. Ulloa said between 40 and 80 rebels died. There was no immediate way to independently confirm the death toll.

Meanwhile, two mayors in Arauca state were kidnapped Wednesday by men dressed in military uniforms, police said. Three other local government officials in Aruaca disappeared Tuesday, police said, but the circumstances were not clear.

Members of illegal, right-wing paramilitary forces have been known to wear Colombian military uniforms.

Colombia's various armed groups use kidnapping to intimidate local politicians, and to collect ransom.

Colombia's 38-year civil war pits the FARC and a smaller rebel group against the paramilitaries and government forces. Some 3,500 people are killed every year in the fighting.

Copyright © 2002, The Associated Press



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