Newsbrief: Colombian Rebels Issue Threat to US Troops 10/2/00

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Reuters reported Friday that Colombia's largest guerrilla force, the 17,000-member Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), has warned that US soldiers will be "military targets" if they participate in any front-line combat role in that country's decades-long civil war.

"The FARC declares United States soldiers a military target," read the headline of a statement distributed on the Internet by the FARC.

The FARC, peasant-based leftist revolutionaries, have been in revolt against the central government since 1964. They currently control roughly 40% of Colombian territory, including vast tracts where peasants grow coca. The US-sponsored Plan Colombia, on which US taxpayers have just made an initial investment of $1.3 billion, is designed to retake the coca-growing regions.

The US has said that it does not plan a combat role for American troops, but the Colombian aid package allows for as many as 500 US military advisors, and that limit can be waived in the event of "imminent involvement" in hostilities. Other US military, intelligence, and law enforcement personnel are also involved in the muddied anti-drug/anti-guerrilla conflict. Five US military personnel died last summer when the plane they were using to overfly FARC territory crashed for unknown reasons.

"All Colombian or foreign military personnel in combat zones will be a military target of the FARC," said rebel commander Andres Paris in the statement.

"At the moment FARC guerrillas do not wish to reveal if there are concrete plans to attack United States military bases in the country," said Paris, but several bases where US soldiers are stationed are "very close to regions where guerrillas recently staged intense combat that caused government forces important casualties."

The FARC has stepped up its attacks on Colombia police and military forces since the US aid package was passed two months ago, with a combat death toll in the hundreds since then.

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Issue #153, 10/2/00 Bolivia: Coca Growers Battle Government Troops as Banzer Regime Totters | Drug-Related Cases On Supreme Court Fall Docket, Tattered Fourth Amendment Again at Issue | More than 100 Leading Medical Professionals Urge US Surgeon General to Protect Doctor-Patient Relationship at Risk in Upcoming Supreme Court Case | Follow That Story: Texas Border DAs Again Tell Feds to Pay Up or They Won't Prosecute | Elections 2000:00:00 Voter Initiatives Address Medical Marijuana, Marijuana Legalization, Sentencing Reform and Asset Forfeiture | Lies, Damn Lies, and Congressman Mica: Funny Numbers on Drug Deaths and Murder | Newsbrief: Colombian Rebels Issue Threat to US Troops | Newsbrief: San Francisco Rejects Seizing Drug Buyers' Cars | Coalition for Jubilee Clemency | Media Scan -- Scoop Charges LA Police Chief Had Evidence of Rampart Corruption a Year Before Expose, Arianna Huffington on Drug War in "Jim Crow, the Sequel" Column | Job Opportunities with Santa Cruz Needle Exchange Program | The Reformer's Calendar
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