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from Weekly News Update on the Americas

On Sept. 17, members of an unidentified armed group ambushed a commission of the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA as they worked on a surveying project near the Colombian border, killing 23-year old engineer Ana Laura Carrasco and six soldiers, including 2nd Lt. Carlos Perez Fernandez, commander of the army unit escorting the delegation. Another civilian and a soldier were wounded; seven civilian members of the delegation were unhurt. The attack took place near the town of La Victoria in the western plains state of Apure, near the border with the oil-rich Colombian department of Arauca. (AP, Sept. 18; AFP, Sept. 19)

The Colombian government immediately blamed the attack on the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). According to an analysis by Swedish reporter Dick Emanuelsson, Colombian defense minister Jorge Alberto Uribe was quoted in Venezuela's rightwing newspaper El Universal as saying "the Colombian army has reliable intelligence suggesting that the 10th front of the FARC, headed by Jaime Cotrino Diaz, known by the alias Arcesio, is responsible for these acts." (Colombia Indymedia, Sept. 20)

Just days before the attack, Venezuelan journalist Juan Ramon Rios published a report claiming that at least two paramilitary groups were patrolling in the same region of Apure, coordinated by Venezuelan right-wingers Robert Alonso and Carlos Ortega. The Cuban-born Alonso owns Finca Daktari, a farm in the Caracas suburbs where in May of this year Venezuelan authorities arrested dozens of paramilitaries at a training camp. (ANNCOL, Sept. 21)

The Venezuelan government has been careful not to assign blame. On Sept. 19, Venezuelan defense minister Jorge Garcia Carneiro said a Colombian citizen was being investigated for alleged participation in the attack. Garcia told the Colombian radio station Caracol that Venezuelan authorities had not been able to confirm reports that the crime may have been committed by right-wing paramilitaries. (El Nuevo Herald, Miami, Sept. 20) President Hugo Chavez also said it was unclear who committed the attack, and added what sounded like a warning: "The Colombian guerrillas are not our enemy... But if they enter our territory, from that moment they become an enemy of this country because they violate the sovereignty of our territory." (La Republica, Peru, Sept. 21)

If the FARC's 10th Front is responsible, it would not be the first time that unit has carried out attacks which seem to go against the FARC's stated political goals. On March 10, 1999, the FARC admitted that its 10th Front was responsible for the Mar. 4 execution of indigenous rights activists Ingrid Washinawatok, Terence Freitas and Lahe'ena'e Gay. The three US activists, who were visiting Colombia as guests of the U'wa tribe, were kidnapped on Feb. 25, 1999, in Colombia's Arauca department; their bodies were found a week later across the border in Apure state, Venezuela. (Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 26)

NOTE: More bodies were found in subsequent days, bringing the total to twelve--some from separate incidents and possibly including some of those who carried out the initial attack. Some bodies were found with the hands tied behind the back. All the deaths have been attributed to irregular forces. (Venezuelanalysis, Sept. 21)

See also WW3 REPORT #99


Compiled by WORLD WAR 3 REPORT, Oct. 6, 2004
Reprinting permissible with attribution

Reprinting permissible with attribution.