Colombia military kills FARC dissident leader Mordisco

BOGOTA, July 15 (Reuters) - Nestor Gregorio Vera, who commanded a group of former Colombian rebels who rejected a peace deal and was best known by his alias Ivan Mordisco, died in an armed forces bombing this week, Defense Minister Diego Molano said on Friday.

Mordisco was killed along with nine other fighters last weekend in a jungle area of southwestern Caqueta province, Molano told journalists.

Mordisco's death is the latest in a series of killings of ex-FARC leaders who rejected a 2016 peace deal with the government and instead formed two dissident factions which officials say are involved in drug trafficking and illegal mining.

"The operation had as an objective the neutralization of one of the top commanders of the FARC dissidents who never entered the Havana (peace) accord and whose criminal trajectory of more than 30 years in the south of the country was a scourge of that region," Molano said.

Mordisco was the last great FARC leader, Molano said, and his death is a final stab at the dissidents. Molano said Mordisco had been planning to expand his faction.

According to security sources, Mordisco replaced Gentil Duarte as the leader of their so-called FARC-EP dissident faction after the latter was killed at the end of May in Venezuela, the site of all other recent deaths of dissident commanders. read more

The FARC-EP faction and its rival the Segunda Marquetalia compete against each other and other armed groups for control of criminal activities in Colombia and Venezuela.

Segunda Marquetalia commander Ivan Marquez, who was a negotiator at peace talks before rejecting the accord, survived a recent attack in Venezuela, according to Colombia's armed forces.

Dissident leaders Jesus Santrich, Romana and El Paisa have also been killed recently in Venezuela.

The Colombian government accuses Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of sheltering Colombian armed groups, which Maduro has vehemently denied.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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