FARC guerrillas take out Colombian radar installation
Air operations in a wide region of southwestern Colombia were delayed on Saturday following an attack by FARC guerrillas against a radar antenna system key to commercial aviation, said that nation’s Civil Aviation authority.
One policeman was killed in the attack by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) launched on Friday night above Santa Ana, in the department of Cauca. He had been guarding aviation facilities, officials said.
“Aeronautical communications in the southwest of the country have been disrupted temporarily by a terrorist attack against civilian facilities”, said a statement from Civil Aeronautics.
Although the FARC have been weakened by a military offensive bringing death to several commanders and the desertion of thousands of its fighters, the attack proved that the rebel group still has the capacity to carry high-impact operations. The guerrillas fired homemade missiles, gas cylinders filled with explosives, and attacked troops stationed in the area with bursts of rifle and machine gun fire.
The radar damaged by the attack covers 300 kilometers and not only controls commercial flights, but also supports the armed forces against drug trafficking in the southwest airspace.
“Repairing the radar will take several months. We do not know whether to reduce the number of flights, but there will be delays, “said the director of Civil Aeronautics, Santiago Castro.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has demanded that the FARC release all hostages, suspend hostilities and lay down their weapons for negotiations, conditions that the guerrillas have rejected as a surrender. He called the attack on the radar installation affecting thousands of travelers “the ultimate demonstration of weakness and despair” by the guerrillas.
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