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Les Farc attaquent un champ pétrolier Le 14/1/08

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à 80 km au nord du nouveau block SN9 gagné au mini round 9

FARC rebels attack oil company camp in 14:04 14/01/09
FARC rebels attack oil company camp in Colombia

BOGOTA, Jan 14, 2009

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas attacked a camp belonging to a contractor employed by oil company Ecopetrol in the remote El Catatumbo region, near the border with Venezuela, but no one was injured, officials said Tuesday.

The rebels torched six vehicles, including an ambulance, at the camp, Norte de Santander province police commander Col. Richard Portilla said.

The FARC guerrillas also burned the camp, where Ecopetrol operates an oil well.

Initial reports said the oil workers had been kidnapped, but Portilla said "there is no one missing and no one was injured."

The rebel attack occurred Sunday night at the camp near the remote hamlet of Petrolea, Portilla said, noting that word of the incident got out slowly because the rebels left behind a bomb on the access road to the camp.

"Police provided support for 30th Brigade soldiers with two officers from the bomb squad to find and deactivate the devices, (which were) planted strategically with the goal of doing harm to the troops," Portilla said.

The FARC, Colombia's oldest and largest leftist guerrilla group, was founded in 1964, has an estimated 8,000 to 17,000 fighters and operates across a large swath of this Andean nation.

President Alvaro Uribe's administration has made fighting the FARC a top priority and has obtained billions in U.S. aid for counterinsurgency operations.

The FARC, whose leader is Alfonso Cano, suffered a series of setbacks last year.

On July 2, 2008, the Colombian army rescued former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, U.S. military contractors Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell and Marc Gonsalves, and 11 other Colombian police officers and soldiers.

The FARC had been trying to trade the 15 captives, along with 25 other "exchangeables," for hundreds of jailed guerrillas.

The rebels' most valuable bargaining chip was Betancourt, a dual Colombian-French citizen the FARC seized in February 2002 whose plight became a cause celebre in Europe.

FARC founder Manuel Marulanda, who was known as "Sureshot," died on March 26.

On March 1, Colombian forces staged a cross-border raid into Ecuador, killing FARC second-in-command Raul Reyes and setting off a regional diplomatic crisis.

Ivan Rios, a high-level FARC commander, was killed March 7 by one of his own men, who cut off the guerrilla leader's hand and presented it to army troops, along with identification documents, as proof that the rebel chief was dead.

A succession of governments have battled Colombia's leftist insurgent groups since the mid-1960s.

In 1999, then-President Andres Pastrana allowed the creation of a Switzerland-sized "neutral" zone in the jungles of southern Colombia for peace talks with the FARC.

After several years of fitful and ultimately fruitless negotiations, Pastrana ordered the armed forces to retake the region in early 2002. But while the arrangement lasted, the FARC enjoyed free rein within the zone.

The FARC is on both the U.S. and EU lists of terrorist groups. Drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping-for-ransom are the FARC's main means of financing its operations.

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