Latin America & Caribbean

Colombian Farc negotiator 'killed in bombing raid'

Jairo Martinez at peace talks in Havana, Cuba on 27 May 2014 Image copyright EPA
Image caption The rebel known as Jairo Martinez joined the Farc negotiating team in February 2014

Colombia's left-wing Farc rebel group says that one of their negotiators at peace talks in Cuba was among 27 rebels killed in a bombing raid last week.

Farc commander Pastor Alape said the rebel known as Jairo Martinez had died in the attack in Cauca province.

According to the Farc, Jairo Martinez had been on an "educational mission" to tell rebels about the peace process.

The Farc and the Colombian government sides are engaged in peace negotiations but have not agreed a ceasefire.

Jairo Martinez was a relatively recent addition to the Farc negotiating team, which he joined on 28 February 2014.

Not much is known about him except that the Colombian military suspected him of being behind the kidnapping of Sgt Pablo Moncayo.

Sgt Moncayo was held for 12 years by the Farc before being released in 2010.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sgt Pablo Moncayo (right) with his father after his release in March 2010

His father Gustavo had campaigned tirelessly for his release, walking the length and breadth of Colombia with chains tied around his wrists to symbolise Sgt Moncayo's captivity.

The rebels said Jairo Martinez was one of 27 rebels who died in Gaupi in south-western Cauca province.

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Media captionColombia's air force released aerial footage of the raid in Cauca

The Farc also confirmed that the commander of the 14th division of the Farc, Roman Ruiz, was killed in a bombing raid in north-western Choco province on Monday.

There has been a recent escalation of violence on both sides even as the peace talks continue in the Cuban capital, Havana.

The escalation was triggered by a Farc ambush which left 11 soldiers dead on 15 April.

President Juan Manuel Santos responded by ordering the resumption of bombing raids on rebel positions which had been suspended since March to reward the rebels for declaring a unilateral ceasefire.

About 40 Farc rebels have been killed since the security forces resumed their raids.

Nevertheless, the two sides are continuing to meet in Havana in an attempt to put an end to more than five decades of armed conflict.

An estimated 220,000 people have keen killed since the Farc was founded in 1964.

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