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Rural councilman kidnapped by guerrillas

Video by Rachel MARUSAK

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-05-31

Colombian authorities said guerrillas killed three people and kidnapped a local council worker during an attack on a government building in the Huila province. President Alvaro Uribe promised swift action to find the lawmaker.

REUTERS - Colombian guerrillas killed three people and kidnapped a local councilman during an attack on a government building in a rural town, authorities said.

Two security guards and a police officer were shot dead when gunmen stormed a municipal office in Garzon in southern Huila province, late on Friday before fleeing with councilor Jose Armando Acuna, police said.

Colombia’s FARC rebels have been weakened by President Alvaro Uribe’s U.S.-backed security campaign and urban bombings, massacres and kidnappings from the long conflict have ebbed. But the guerrillas remain a force in rural areas.

Huila province was once targeted frequently by rebel kidnap squads, but the region remains a key transport route for arms and for drugs reaching the Pacific coast.

The FARC—Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—holds around 20 police officers and soldiers hostage, some captive for as long as 10 years. Attempts to reach a deal on releasing the hostages have been deadlocked for years.

Guerrillas in February released the last of the politicians they were holding captive as leverage for possible negotiations with the government. The FARC says the releases were a goodwill gesture, but Uribe says the rebels are trying to gain political points rather than lay the groundwork for talks.

Date created : 2009-05-31

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