Colombia says 18 rebels dead in jungle bombardment

BOGOTA, July 25 (Reuters) - Colombian forces killed at least 18 leftist guerrillas on Saturday in an aerial bombardment in the southern jungle province of Meta, the country's military command said.

The bombing was part of Colombia's hunt for Jorge Briceno, known as "Mono Jojoy," chief military commander of the 45-year-old Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Government troops have been stepping up pressure on FARC camps where they believe the rebel boss has been hiding.

President Alvaro Uribe, first elected in 2002, is popular for his U.S.-backed crackdown on the cocaine-financed FARC. He may run for a third term next year if his supporters succeed in changing the constitution to allow him to campaign again. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; writing by Hugh Bronstein; editing by Mohammad Zargham)