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Colombia rebels kill 9 officers in ambush
Updated: 2004-11-17 14:42

Leftist rebels ambushed a police convoy Tuesday in northeastern Colombia, killing at least nine officers and wounding three others, authorities said. A 10th policeman was killed in a separate incident.

The police were responding to a call, allegedly from villagers claiming to have spotted a group of suspicious armed men near Paimado, 180 miles northeast of the capital, Bogota. The rebels attacked with automatic weapons, a National Police spokesman said.

As many as 100 rebels from the National Liberation Army, the smaller of two operating in Colombia and known by its Spanish acronym ELN, were believed involved, the spokesman said.

Separately, suspected fighters of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the country's main Marxist rebel group known as the FARC, killed another policeman Tuesday at a road block on a southern highway.

The officer was shot dead as he drove on a motorbike toward the FARC checkpoint near the city of Ibague, 80 miles south of Bogota, the spokesman said.

Authorities sent a Colombian army unit to secure the area, setting off a gunbattle that left eight soldiers wounded. There was no immediate word on casualties among the rebels.

The police officer was killed at the road block despite a massive military buildup ordered by President Alvaro Uribe to secure Colombia's major highways and to drive rebels from areas previously under their control.

An additional 150,000 troops have been deployed along key highways in the past two years.

The FARC and the ELN have been waging a 40-year-old insurgency to topple the government and establish a Marxist-style state in Colombia. The fighting claims an estimated 3,500 lives every year.

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