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Colombian rebels kill three police officers

world Updated: Dec 20, 2007 15:23 IST

IANS
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Three police officers have been killed in an attack on a police station by leftist guerrillas in the south-western Colombian province of Cauca even as the outfit early this week freed three of their hostages in a gesture to resume peace talks.

According to authorities, the Revolutionary Armed Forces Colombia (FARC) rebels attacked the police station on Tuesday in Toribio causing the fatalities, Spain's EFE news agency reported on Thursday.

"The attack was brief but quite intense, as FARC members hurled grenades and fired assault rifles at the police garrison," said Arquimedes Vitonas, mayor of Toribio.

"Some houses near the station were damaged, but fortunately there were no fatalities among the civilians," the mayor told reporters.

Police and army troops were dispatched from Popayan, the provincial capital, to try and cut off the retreat route of the guerrillas, reports said.

The attack came the same day when FARC announced it would unilaterally release three of the 45 high-value people it has been keeping hostage to exchange for hundreds of jailed comrades.

The FARC, now with an estimated 20,000 fighters and an extensive organisation, has battled a succession of Colombian governments since the mid-1960s.

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