Representational image of ex-FARC guerillas
Colombia’s FARC Celebrate End Of Role In War After Weapons Hand Over Photo by Joaquin Sarmiento/AFP via Getty Images

A former leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas, Hernán Darío Velásquez, was shot dead in an ambush in Venezuela, local media reported Sunday.

However, neither the Colombian nor the Venezuelan government and investigators have confirmed the reports. The Colombian military also told the media that they did not know about the reported killing.

Velásquez, who went by the nickname "El Paisa," (The Peasant), was killed in an attack by mercenaries seeking to cash in on rewards available for his capture, as speculated by local media outlets. According to reports, the killing took place in the state of Apure near the border with Colombia.

The FARC rebels were a Marxist group that waged war against the Colombian government for more than 50 years before eventually calling for a wave of peace in 2016.

Colombian authorities told local media outlet El Tiempo that they would not officially confirm his death until officials had seen his body. A spokesperson for Colombian President Iván Duque told Reuters that his office was looking into more information.

Velásquez was a commander of one of the FARC's most feared units. He became notorious for the gravity and severity of his attacks. He was known for being brutal. Velásquez was behind the 2003 car bombing on a social club in the Colombian capital of Bogotá that killed 36 people and wounded almost 200. Also, among his reported criminal attacks was the 1998 attack on a joint army and police base in Miraflores, wherein 16 members of the security forces were killed.

More than 100 soldiers and police officers were kidnapped as part of the attack. Most of those abducted were freed in 2001 in exchange for the release of FARC members from jail, but the rebel group held two officers for more than 12 years.

When he became part of the peace talks in Havana in 2016, a lot of people saw it as a sign that the guerrillas were genuinely committed to laying down their arms. However, in 2018 he broke with the peace truce and reappeared a year later alongside former FARC leaders Iván Márquez and Jesús Santrich to announce the formation of a new rebel group called "Segunda Marquetalia" and confirmed that he was taking up arms once more.

Some 13,000 FARC guerrillas have laid down their arms since the 2016 ceasefire. The group entered into a minor political party, holding 10 seats in Colombia's congress.

Representational image
Colombian President of the Special Jurisdiction of Peace (JEP), Eduardo Cifuentes Munoz, speaks during a press conference in Bogota, on August 10, 2021. - The court that judges the most heinous crimes of the Colombian conflict announced this Thursday that it will investigate the FARC, the dissolved guerrilla that signed peace in 2016, for the recruitment of 18,667 minors under 18 years of age in its five decades of armed uprising. Photo by Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.