A top Colombian rebel commander has been killed by his own chief bodyguard, Colombia's Defense Minister said Friday.
Ivan Rios was the second leading member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to be killed in a week. FARC second-in-command Raul Reyes was killed in Ecuador last week in a raid by Colombian forces that has sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries.
"The FARC has suffered a new, major blow," Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said at a news conference.
Santos said troops launched an operation designed to capture Rios on February 17 after receiving a tip that he was in a mountainous area straddling the western provinces of Caldas and Antioquia. The troops are said to have engaged the guerrillas' outer security ring seven times.
Thursday night, he said, a guerrilla known as Rojas came to the troops with Rios' severed right hand, laptop computer and ID, saying he had killed his boss three days earlier.
Santos said Rojas had killed Rios in a bid to relieve the military pressure on the rebels, who were surrounded without supplies and without communication.
Santos said Colombia had confirmed Rios' identity Friday.
(Xinhua News Agency March 8, 2008)