In a combined action the 12th and 25th Fronts of the FARC and two ELN columns have overrun one of the three principal bases for death squads in the Magdalena Medio region. 60 paramilitaries were killed, 43 wounded and 14 captured, amongst them a good number of informants working for army intelligence.
The battle took place in the Cerro Azul (Blue Hill) mountains, near San Pablo in the south of Bolívar. For many years the AUC paramilitaries from this base had tortured, kidnapped and massacred in the surrounding areas, especially in the outskirts of Barrancabermeja. The base was like an army camp with artillery pieces, advanced technology, two helipads, a road was built nearby, two prisons and a special meeting hall.
The guerrillas found several torture victims still held on the base. One 52 year old woman relayed her horror story. "I was kept in an isolated cell… People were smashed to pieces until they died". According to members of human rights organisations and local peasants "high officers of the Church came here for meetings with ranchers and the army. They said they were doing humanitarian work".
It was precisely the Cerro Azul base that was the final destination, as confessed by the army and paramilitaries, of indigenous leader Kimmy Pernia two years ago. His disappearance was at the time treated with the utmost indifference and impunity by the government, Attorney General and the army (see Colombia Solidarity No 2).
The Cerro Azul death squads, supposedly in a cease fire with the government, had in December murdered four peasants, two indigenous people three women besides disappearing seven members of an agricultural cooperative.
With this action the guerrillas continue their pursuit of the paramilitaries. They claim to have killed 1,700 paras in the last year. VISUR
* FARC Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – the biggest guerrilla movement.
ELN National Liberation Army – the second biggest guerrilla movement.