In a breaking story the second-in-command to one of the world's oldest rebel groups was reportedly killed yesterday.
Senior Colombian government officials claimed that Jorge Briceno (alias Mono Jojoy) of the FARC was slain in a military operation that took place yesterday. In remarks made moments ago by Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera, the attack hit "the mother of all FARC camps" that served as the "strategic nerve center" of the guerillas. Rivera also called on other rebels, including supreme leader alias Alfonso Cano, to "give up" and warned that the military would continue its offensive against the guerillas.
Rivera's press conference came shortly after President Juan Manuel Santos leaked the news regarding Briceno's death. "This is the biggest blow against the FARC, even more than the death of Raul Reyes (in 2008)" said Santos who is currently in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.
According to BBC News, Jojoy's death represents "a major coup" for Santos and "is likely to seriously affect rebel morale." Twenty other rebels were supposedly also killed though it hasn't been mentioned if there were any hostages at the same site were Briceno was slain. (Update: Speaking of the hostages, could the death of Briceno force Cano's hand to seek dialogue with the government? Colombian political website La Silla Vacia touched on this possibility).
The attack against Briceno comes after weeks of intensified combats between the FARC and Colombian security forces. On Sunday alone, for example, at least 27 guerillas were killed during a battle in southern Colombia.
As noted in The Guardian, the FARC began as a "peasant army in the 1960s" yet grew in power primarily via the illicit drug trade. The rebels have been seriously weakened in recent years and suffered several military setbacks such as the death of Reyes and rebel founder Manuel Maralunda.
Online Sources - BBC News, CNN, El Espectador, MSNBC, The Guardian
Image - BBC News