The Colombian military accused the FARC (Revolutionary Armed forces of Colombia) rebels of shooting dead three police officers on Thursday and bringing down an energy pylon, cutting off power to half a million people in the country’s south.
FARC members opened fire on three police officers patrolling a section of the Pan-American Highway around the southwestern province of Cauca and detonated explosives a few kilometres away on the same road on Thursday, Reuters reports.
Local authorities said another attack was on an electrical tower on Wednesday night, which caused a power cut across the southern province of Caqueta, with a population of 470,000.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, where he is attending a summit of the European Union and Latin American leaders, President Juan Manuel Santos called the attacks “incomprehensible” and condemned them as “terrorist acts.”
Composed of Marxist rebels, the 8,000-strong FARC members and the Colombian government have been in peace talks since November 2012 in order to put a stop to a 51-year civil war between them.
The conflict has so far caused about 200,000 deaths and displaced 6million people since 1964.
The FARC lifted a unilateral ceasefire it had declared in December on May 22 and has since carried out near-daily attacks in the southwest where it is most powerful. The attacks have hit roadways, power networks and crude oil trucks and pipelines, leaving Colombians without power and with polluted water supplies.
The peace talks, held in Havana, have continued despite ongoing attacks by the FARC and retaliation by Colombian forces.
Columbia Peace, a blog hosted by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), reports that a broad spectrum of actors - the Colombian government, the US government, the United Nations, former Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and Irish Republican Army (IRA) fighters - are asking both sides to speed the tempo of the dialogues.
The UN representative in Colombia, victim organisations and the talks’ two “guarantor nations” Cuba and Norway have all called on both Santos and the FARC to pursue a bilateral cease-fire