Insurgent attacks and clashes with soldiers leave at least 28 dead

BOGOTA, Colombia - Colombia's insurgents killed unarmed townspeople and clashed with soldiers Saturday in widespread violence that reportedly left at least 28 people dead.

The bloodshed came four days after the nation's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, froze peace talks with the government aimed at ending the 36-year conflict that claims some 3,000 lives a year.

On Saturday morning in the eastern state of Antioquia, 50 FARC fighters searching for an escaped kidnap victim killed four people in the town of Florida after they refused to reveal the location of the fleeing hostage, said army Maj. Sergio Perez. The fate of the escaped kidnap victim, who was not identified, was not clear.

The army also alleges that FARC combatants were responsible for killing between 10 and 15 people inside a farmhouse Saturday morning in the Antioquian town of Frontino, 215 miles from Bogota. Army Maj. Oscar Anzola said the rebels apparently believed the victims were collaborators of a rival right-wing paramilitary group.

Some 50 paramilitary fighters, meanwhile, killed five people in the northern state of Cesar after accusing them of siding with rebels, national radio reported. The army and local police could not immediately confirm the attack, which allegedly occurred in the town of La Loma, 335 miles from the capital Bogota.

Armed insurgents have killed nearly 1,400 civilians from January to August this year alone, according to human rights monitors.

Combat between rebels and government troops intensified in western Colombia.

Seeking to retake territory in the western state of Risaralda, soldiers on Friday began attacking FARC fighters in the town of Pueblo Rico, 160 miles from the capital Bogota. Six rebels and two soldiers have died in the ongoing clashes, said army spokesman Luis Hernandez.

And in clashes with troops in the southern state of Narino on Friday, fighters from the smaller National Liberation Army, or ELN, killed a lower-ranking officer and injured three soldiers. The fighting ended Saturday morning, Hernandez said.


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