October 19, 2009 / 2:24 AM / 8 years ago

Suspected Colombian rebels kill two councilors

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Suspected Colombian guerrillas killed two local politicians on Sunday and briefly kidnapped three people as they attended a meeting in a rural area south of Bogota, authorities said.

Gunmen shot the two town council members in Sumapaz municipality in what appeared to be a rare FARC rebel attack near the Colombian capital city, Bogota mayor Samuel Moreno told reporters.

“Two or three men in camouflage and with rifles arrived asking for the local mayor, they took away two councilors, and killed them, and took away three others who were later released,” Moreno said.

He said authorities believed the politicians, Fernando Morales and Maria Fanny Torres, both members of the opposition Liberal Party, had been killed by FARC fighters.

Rebel attacks, kidnappings and bombings have eased since President Alvaro Uribe sent troops out to retake areas once under guerrilla sway. But the FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, is still a force in remote, rural areas where cocaine trafficking helps fund its operations.

Local Colombian council members and aldermen in rural areas have often been targeted by rebels or other armed groups looking to intimidate local communities or regain influence in regions where state presence remains weak.

Latin America’s oldest surviving insurgency, the FARC have been battered by the loss of top commanders, desertions and increased military mobility and intelligence thanks to more than $5 billion in U.S. aid to Colombia.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; writing by Patrick Markey; editing by Mohammad Zargham

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