Quito denies Colombian guerillas launched attack from Ecuador

Quito’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño said Sept. 12 that the dramatic attack two days earlier by FARC guerillas on the border town of San Miguel in Colombia’s Putumayo department was not launched from Ecuador. Patiño stressed that the attack, in which at least six Colombian National Police officers were killed, “has nothing to do with us.” The foreign minister’s statement came in reaction to the expressed concerns of the Colombian government that FARC fighters may have crossed into Colombia from Ecuador to launch the offensive and then fled back to hide in the neighboring country.

The Colombian government has since confirmed that the guerrillas launched the attack internally, which Patiño was quick to emphasise. Patiño also said that following the attack, the two neighbor countries had agreed to reactivate cooperation on border security through the Bi-national Border Commission (Combifron). Patiño said the two governments plan to hold meetings in coming weeks to move forward in normalizing their diplomatic relations.

Ecuador broke ties with Colombia in March 2008, after the Colombian army carried out a raid on a FARC camp on Ecuadoran soil. Ecuador viewed the raid—in which FARC leader “Raul Reyes” was killed and his computers retrieved by Colombia—as undermining its sovereignty. The two nations have been working at restoring relations since late 2009 but Ecuador has refused to fully repair ties until Colombia handed over Reyes’ files, which Bogotá claimed contained evidence of collusion between the Ecuadoran government and the FARC. (Colombia Reports, Sept. 13; Colombia Reports, Sept. 10)

Amnesty International has meanwhile urged the Colombian authorities to protect around 90 young people named on two paramilitary “death lists” on Facebook, after three people on the lists were killed last month. All the men and women on the “death lists” live in Puerto Asis, another border town in Putumayo. They have been warned to leave the town or they too will be killed. The death lists were issued after the killings of two police officers in the town a month ago, which the security forces blamed on the FARC. (Amnesty International, Sept. 13)

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