Latin America & Caribbean

Ten Colombian soldiers die in suspected Farc attack

Policemen and soldiers look at rifles, mortars and grenade launchers seized from Farc guerrillas in Cucuta on 11 October 2011.
Image caption Colombian soldiers were deployed to increase security for regional elections next week

Ten Colombian soldiers have been killed in an ambush that the army blamed on the left-wing rebel group, the Farc.

The army said it was the deadliest attack this year.

A military spokesman said the rebels detonated explosives as two vehicles were travelling in the southern province of Narino, near Colombia's border with Ecuador.

The local governor said the soldiers had been deployed to increase security before regional elections next week.

Gen Alejandro Navas, the head of Colombia's armed forces, told reporters : "Reinforcements are arriving. We have begun to chase these bandits, who are fleeing."

Left-wing rebels belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) and National Liberation Army (ELN) often carry out attacks before elections.

On 30 October, Colombians will choose governors, mayors and city councillors across the country in elections already marred by violence.

Leftist guerrillas, criminal gangs and former right-wing paramilitaries are all active in the Narino region and are engaged in a struggle for control of the lucrative Pacific coast drug-trafficking routes.

The Marxist-inspired Farc has been active since the early 1960s.

It was severely weakened by a military offensive launched in 2002 but remains capable of carrying out attacks, in part due to cash raised through its involvement in the illegal drugs trade.

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