Colombia: FARC blow up oil pipeline

Colombia's Caño-Limon oil pipeline was paralyzed for a third day after it was blown up by FARC guerillas on April 29. Military-escorted engineers are working to repair the pipeline, which carries 100,000 barrels of oil a day from a field jointly run by the state company Ecopetrol and Occidental Petroleum. Some 4 million barrels of petroleum have contaminated the local Rio Tibú, leaving many residents without potable water. The FARC also blew up the Padre-Nieto bridge, in nearby Catatumbo, leaving several small communities cut off across a large area of Norte de Santander department.

The blast took place hours after the US ambassador, William Brownfield, said during a visit to the pipeline that military aid used to protect the line from sabotage has served its purpose and should be redirected to social programs. "Given that the security of the Caño-Limon pipeline is incredibly better than it was five years ago, it makes sense for these funds to be transferred to other areas," he told reporters. (Calgary Herald, El Pais [Cali], Caracol Radio, May 3; DPA, May 1)

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