The Colombian government said Friday its military has killed Guillermo Leon Saenz Vargas, alias Alfonso Cano, the top commander of the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Alfonso Cano, Colombian rebel ideologue and head of the Bolivarian Movement, the newly-launched political organization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, gestures during an interview with Reuters in Villa Nora hamlet, near San Vicente del Cagua in this April 30, 2000. [File photo/Xinhua]
Hailing the killing as an "very important news for Colombia and its people," Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon told a news conference that the rebel kingpin died in a clash with government troops Friday in jungles near Suarez city of the southwestern Cauca province.
Cauca Governor Alberto Gonzalez also confirmed Cano's death, telling a local radio that Cano died in the western part of his province.
A five million-U.S.-dollar reward had been offered for the capture of Cano, who took over the leadership of the FARC after its founder died in 2008.
Cano's death was another major victory for the Colombian government in its fight against the FARC guerrillas, whose military chief Mono Jojoy was killed last year.
Last month, another key member of FARC, Jose Neftali Umenza, who was handling most of the FARC's drug-trafficking business in the Pacific area, died in an explosion in a rural part of the Buenaventura port city in southwestern Colombia.
The FARC, Colombia's largest rebel group, has been at war with the government since its establishment in 1964.