BOGOTA (Reuters) - Marxist rebels killed two Colombian police officers and a civilian in the country’s southwest, the government said on Friday, as the guerrillas continue to increase attacks against infrastructure and the armed forces.
Coronel Alfredo Ruiz, traveling in a police vehicle in Narino, near the border with Ecuador, was shot after a roadside bomb was detonated near his car. A patrolman and a passing civilian also died.
“The coronel and the patrolman were killed by gunshots,” General Rodolfo Palomino, director of the national police, said.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, who have been in peace talks with the government for 30 months, have recently intensified their offensive after calling off a unilateral ceasefire.
The 8,000-strong FARC lifted the ceasefire three weeks ago and has since hit almost daily at roadways, power networks and oil trucks and pipelines, polluting water supplies in the rebels’ southwestern stronghold.
Months of relative detente, spurred by the peace negotiations in Cuba, ended in April when the rebels killed 11 soldiers in Cauca province, essentially breaking the ceasefire begun in December. Government troops then killed 27 rebels, prompting the FARC to renew hostilities.
“We reject the vile murder of Ipiales district commander Coronel Alfredo Ruiz Clavijo and patrolman Juan David Marmolejo by the FARC,” the defense ministry said on Twitter.
“The FARC are showing they don’t have the will for peace, but for war.”
The rebels have repeatedly demanded a bilateral ceasefire while talks continue, but President Juan Manuel Santos has insisted that hostilities will end only after a peace deal is signed.
Negotiators at the talks have so far reached agreements on land reform, an end to the illegal drugs trade and political participation for ex-rebels.
The 51-year-old conflict has killed more than 220,000 and displaced millions.
Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Lisa Shumaker