Colombian army troops have killed three rebels, one of them thought to be an important guerrilla commander, of the country's largest leftist insurgent group in the southwestern province of Huila, EFE news agency reported on Monday.
The troopers of the 9th Brigade, during a mop up operation, engaged the rebel unit of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in a rural area near Algeciras, 400 km southwest of Bogota, an army spokesman said Sunday.
Both the local administration and the army were trying to find out if one of the killed was top rebel leader Genaro, the second-in-command of the Teofilo Forero Mobile Column, one of the most active and fiercest units of the FARC, he said.
Genero is accused of planning attacks on former Neiva Mayor Cielo Gonzalez and the December 2005 killing of former senator Jaime Lozada Perdomo, husband of former Congresswoman Gloria Polanco de Lozada, who was released by the FARC Feb 27 after holding her hostage for more than six years.
The Teofilo Forero Mobile Column is commanded by a rebel known as "El Paisa" and is believed to be involved in a number of killings, including the 2003 attack on Bogota's El Nogal club that killed 36 people and wounded more than 150.
The FARC, Colombia's oldest and largest leftist guerrilla group with up to 17,000 members, was founded in 1964 and today operates across a large swath of this Andean nation.
President Alvaro Uribe's administration has made fighting the FARC a top priority and has obtained billions of dollars in US aid for counterinsurgency operations.
The FARC is on both the US and European Union lists of terrorist groups. Drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping-for-ransom are the FARC's main means of financing its operations.