Colombia: July 19, 2002


On 19 July, Colombia's United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) announced on their Web site that they had splintered after an internal dispute over individual units' involvement in drug trafficking and the loosely organized ``confederation'' had become impossible to sustain. The group's military commander, Salvatore Mancuso, said that "this disbanding will permit us to remake a national organization of self defense groups that truly serves a function in which all honest Colombians feel represented and defended.''

Also on the 19th, a Colombian newspaper reported that a US Federal Court for the first time will call for the extradition of a paramilitary commander accused of drug-trafficking. Commander Hernan Giraldo Serna of the Self-defense forces of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (northern Colombia) will face charges for the introduction of cocaine in the United States and murder of a US agent. Giraldo reportedly killed an undercover US DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) in the South American nation. 

At about 04.00 on 20 July, a horse-bomb loaded with 25 to 30 kilograms of dynamite was detonated outside the Guadelupe police station, 320 miles (530km) from Bogota in northwestern Colombia. No one was injured, but 20 homes in the area were badly damaged. The attack was attributed to Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (ELN) rebels, although there is no word yet as to whether the horse was an Arabian. 

Omar Bernal, commander of the 63rd front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and a 15-year veteran of the rebel movement, surrendered to Colombian authorities early on 20 July after losing faith in the decades-old guerrilla uprising. Bernal surrendered to soldiers in Ipiales (341 miles southwest of Bogota).- Adam Geibel 




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