Ecuador’s Army reported the capture of nine Colombian guerrillas in two operations last week in Sucumbios province, a strategic area for rest and resupply of the FARC’s powerful Southern Bloc.
On October 20, the Ecuadorian authorities arrested five people in the region of El Tablero following a confrontation, according to La Hora. This came after four suspected members of a Colombian armed group, detained during a separate operation on October 18, were handed over to Colombian authorities. Ecuadorian Defence Minister Miguel Carvajal said that some of the four had been caught on an island in the San Miguel River.
An official statement said that the five detained in the second operation on October 20 were members of “illegal armed Colombian groups,” and that a rifle (reportedly an AK-47) and pistol were also seized.
Currently the five are being detained in Puerto El Carmen, where one is receiving hospital treatment.
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The “subversives” are most likely members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has a strong presence in Putumayo, just across the river in Colombia. The rebels are known to cross the border in order to get supplies, rest, carry out training, and base themselves out of reach of the Colombian authorities.
Indeed, the Colombian security forces sparked an international crisis when their planes crossed a few kilometers into Ecuador in 2008 to carry out a bombing raid on the camp of FARC commander Luis Edgar Devia Silva, alias “Raul Reyes,” who was killed in the operation.
It is not clear how far the Ecuadorian government now tolerates the guerrillas. President Rafael Correa is alleged to have received millions of dollars from the FARC for his presidential campaign, but since 2008 he has launched operations against the group‘s presence in his country. In May 2012 Wilson Tapiero, leader of FARC’s 48th Front, was arrested in Sucumbios, close to El Tablero, and the Ecuadorian government recently deployed some 10,000 troops to the Colombian border to fight drug trafficking.
The small size of the groups detained reveals a change in FARC tactics — they no longer more in large heavily armed and uniformed units, but rather groups of four or five and often dress in civilian clothing.
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