Home>News Center>World

Colombian troops capture guerrilla leader
Updated: 2004-12-13 10:08

Colombian troops have captured a top leftist rebel commander suspected of masterminding the 1999 kidnapping of an entire congregation from a Roman Catholic church, the army said Sunday.

Ramiro Velez, a regional leader of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, the smaller of Colombia's two rebel groups, was arrested Saturday during an operation in Chachaui, 300 miles southwest of Bogota, said Gen. Reinaldo Castellanos.

"He directed all the terrorist activity in the southwest of the country. He is a very important commander, a member of the ELN's national directorate," Castellanos told reporters.

Velez, known by the alias "El Viejo" ("The Old Man"), is accused of rebellion, kidnapping and ordering attacks on villages and the country's energy infrastructure.

He is blamed for the May 1999 gunpoint abductions of 180 Roman Catholic worshippers from the La Maria church in the southwestern city of Cali, the army said in a statement.

The rebels later freed all the hostages but only after collecting hefty ransoms from their families. The ELN funds itself mainly through kidnappings.

Velez also has been implicated in the abduction of 81 people from roadside restaurants outside Cali a year later. Three hostages died of illness during their captivity and 78 others nearly starved before the army rescued them.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Taiwan separatist's plan goes nowhere



Yushchenko says authorities poisoned him



Textile limits imposed to ease trade concerns



15 killed in Philippines market blast



Human rights situation improved in China



Road accidents kill 96,870 this year


  Abbas set to win Palestinian vote, Barghouthi drops out
  U.S. strikes Fallujah; two troops killed
  Yushchenko says authorities poisoned him
  U.S. steps up pressure for IAEA chief's departure
  15 killed in Philippines market blast
  Insurgents try to derail Iraqi elections
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?