UPDATE 1-Colombian president orders military patrols in Bogota
* Military to ensure food supplies
* Reward offered to find troublemakers
* Curfew imposed overnight to control violence, looting (Adds quotes from Santos' address, detail on protests)
By Helen Murphy
BOGOTA, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the military to patrol the streets of Bogota on Friday after violent protests caused havoc across the capital, killing two and leaving the parts of the city in a shambles.
"Yesterday I ordered the militarization of Bogota and I will do the same in any region or zone where the presence of soldiers is necessary," said Santos, making ready as many as 50,000 soldiers.
He took the measure after almost two weeks of roadblocks and clashes with police that spread from the countryside to cities, including Medellin and Cali, on Thursday. Police fired tear gas in downtown Bogota and a curfew was imposed in three densely populated areas of the capital overnight to control outbreaks of violence and looting.
"There is no protest, as fair as it may be, that justifies loss of life," Santos said in a stern early morning address after an overnight cabinet meeting at the presidential palace. "We won't let these vandals get away with this."
"Patience has run out," he added.
Police will review video footage to identify troublemakers and offer rewards for information that leads to their capture, Santos said. He blamed the violence on infiltration by leftist groups and hinted that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rebels were behind the dissent.
The demonstrations began as a strike by angry farmers, and then spread to other sectors. The city has not seen a large military presence for at least a decade, when narco-traffickers sought to pressure the government with bomb attacks.
The protests are the fiercest challenge yet to Santos, who took office in 2010 promising to reduce poverty and bring prosperity to the Andean nation.
"He should have met the farmers from the first day, dialogue was necessary," said Pedro Pablo Pardo, a 38-year old security guard in Bogota who believes the FARC is behind the violence.
"Farmers don't smash business windows and hurl stones."
Thousands of farmers and state workers marched through Bogota and other cities on Thursday, banging pots and pans as they converged after 11 days of blocking roads across the nation to prevent trucks reaching markets.
The protests were mostly peaceful until hundreds of masked activists rushed the main square in Bogota and pelted shop and bank windows with rocks, smashed bus stops and clashed with riot police who fired tear gas to disperse them.
The government has said the FARC infiltrated the protests in an attempt to create disorder and put pressure on Santos as he seeks to negotiate peace with the rebels.
The center-right Santos tried to ease tension earlier on Thursday, acknowledging that the agriculture sector had been "abandoned." But he called for peaceful dissent while talks about possible solutions continued.
The military will deliver food supplies by air and road to cities that are running low because of the roadblocks, Santos said. Food prices have shot up in some places due to shortages.
The demonstrations are the second wave of national strikes this year against agricultural and economic policies. (Additional reporting by Peter Murphy, and Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jackie Frank)
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