BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) – Colombian police captured the commander of an urban guerrilla unit accused of murdering the ex-president of Congress’ Peace Commission and six others, the Bogota police chief said Thursday.
Eladio Diaz Artunduaga, a leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was picked up last week in the rundown Bogota suburb of Soacha, Gen. Hector Garcia said. Authorities waited to verify Artunduaga’s identity before making his arrest public.
He faces numerous counts of terrorism, rebellion, homicide and money laundering, Garcia told reporters.
Artunduaga is also believed to have ordered the murder of former Congressman and leader of Colombia’s Liberal Party, Diego Turbay Cote, his mother and five others on highway near Puerto Rico, 190 miles southeast of Bogota, in December 2000. Some 50 FARC fighters forced Cote’s convoy to stop and shot them by the side of the road.
In June 2002, a Bogota judge convicted the FARC’s supreme commander, Manual Marulanda and 10 other top FARC leaders in absentia to 36 years in prison for the killings.
Separately, Colombian troops killed nine suspected members of Colombia’s smaller rebel group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN, in fighting Thursday near Concepcion, 175 miles northeast of Bogota, the army said.
One soldier also died in the clashes, said Gen. Luis Garcia Chavez, the commander of the army’s Second Division.
The FARC and the ELN have been battling to topple the government and establish a Marxist state in Colombia for four decades.