December 22, 2009 / 5:47 AM / 9 years ago

Suspected rebels kidnap Colombian governor

BOGOTA (Reuters) - A Colombian state governor was kidnapped on Monday after gunmen dressed in military uniforms attacked his home in an assault authorities said was carried out by left-wing FARC guerrillas.

A FARC kidnapping of a provincial governor from his home would show Latin America’s oldest guerrilla insurgency is still capable of high-profile operations despite the group being battered by Colombia’s U.S.-backed military offensive.

Colombian army and police officials said the Teofilo Forero unit of the FARC rebel group was responsible for the kidnapping, during which one police officer was killed.

“The governor was taken from his home by force, and one of the people who was guarding his house was killed,” secretary for the Caqueta state governor’s office, Edilberto Ramon Endo, told reporters.

FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, was once a strong rebel army controlling large parts of Colombia. But bombings and kidnappings it once carried out in a four-decade war have eased as President Alvaro Uribe sent troops to take back areas under control of illegal armed groups.

The FARC is still holding 24 police and soldiers hostage, some kidnapped more than a decade ago and held in jungle camps where they are chained up and forced to march to evade army patrols and aerial bombardments.

Once a powerful peasant army, the FARC has been hit hard by the killing of several top commanders and a steady flow of desertions as guerrillas come under pressure from military and police assault.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Eric Walsh

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