BOGOTA (Reuters) - Leftist FARC guerrillas killed two members of an indigenous community in southwestern Colombia on Wednesday apparently for removing a billboard commemorating the death of their former leader Alfonso Cano in the region three years ago, police said.
The two were killed in Toribio, Cauca province in what appeared to be revenge for removing the billboard honoring the bespectacled and bushy-bearded former FARC leader killed there in an army raid in 2011.
“An attack against the indigenous population is lamentable and to be condemned. The government thoroughly condemns this indescribable act which does nothing for peace in the country,” Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo said in a statement.
Cano’s killing was heralded at the time by President Juan Manuel Santos as one of the biggest blows ever dealt to the rebel group which then joined peace negotiations he initiated the following year. The talks to end the 50-year conflict which has killed around 220,000, are still progressing.
Though the FARC has ceased once-regular kidnappings for ransom, it has vowed to continue attacking government troops even as peace talks continue unless its demand for a bilateral ceasefire is met, something the government has ruled out.
The interior ministry named the two victims as Manuel Antonio Tumina and Daniel Coicue. Cauca is one of the most violent regions of conflict-wracked Colombia.
Separately, the Colombian army said a contractor was killed after stepping on a landmine while trying to gain access to repair the Transandino pipeline in neighboring Narino province which the FARC bombed on Wednesday, suspending pumping of crude oil.
The 190-mile (306 km) pipeline with a 48,000 barrel-per-day capacity, carries crude from several oil fields in the south of the country to a port on the country’s Pacific Coast where Colombia’s increasing exports to Asia are handled.
Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Monica Garcia; Writing by Peter Murphy; Editing by Jeremy Laurence