|Alfonso Cano, Colombian rebel ideologue and head of the Bolivarian Movement, the newly-launched political organization of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, gestures during an interview with Reuters in Villa Nora hamlet, near San Vicente del Cagua in this April 30, 2000 file photo. Colombian forces killed Cano in combat, delivering another serious blow to Latin America's longest guerrilla insurgency, the defense ministry said on November 4, 2011. The death of Cano, who took over leadership of the rebels after their founder died in 2008, is a strategic victory for President Juan Manuel Santos. The backdrop shows the eyes of 19th Century South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
BOGOTA, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- The Colombian government said Friday its troops have killed Guillermo Leon Saenz Vargas, alias Alfonso Cano, top commander of the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Hailing the killing as a "very important news for Colombia and its people," Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon told a news conference that the rebel kingpin died in a clash with government troops Friday in jungles near Suarez city of the southwestern Cauca province.
According to the official, police and army troops bombed a FARC hideout early Friday and then deployed an operation on the ground, killing Cano in a gun battle.
Photos of the dead body of the country's most wanted man were shown by the defense minister.
His face, probably inflamed by the bombing, wasn't wearing the glasses and bulky grey beard as he usually did.
News reports indicated the body had been subjected to several fingerprints tests, which allowed the complete identification.
In a television and radio speech, President Juan Manuel Santos described his death as "the most overwhelming blow that has been given to this organization in its history," and demanded other illegal organizations to lay down their arms before they end up "in jails or in tombs."
The president also called on his subordinates and especially the military forces to avoid triumphalist attitude and to keep working for Colombia's peace and prosperous future.
Cano, 63, assumed the leadership of the illegal armed organization in 2008 after the death of former FARC's commander and founder Pedro Nel Marin, alias "Manuel Marulanda."
Cano's death was another major victory for the Colombian government in its fight against the FARC guerrillas, whose military chief Mono Jojoy was killed last year.
Last month, another key member of FARC, Jose Neftali Umenza, who was handling most of the FARC's drug-trafficking business in the Pacific area, died in an explosion in a rural part of the Buenaventura port city in southwestern Colombia.
FARC, Colombia's largest rebel group, has been at war with the government since its establishment in 1964.
Colombia busts local rebel cell
BOGOTA, Oct.18 (Xinhua) -- A local cell of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was busted in the eastern-central province of Meta and 17 suspects were arrested, police said Tuesday.
The suspects "were part of a terrorist cell responsible for burning several vehicles" in Meta, National Police Director Oscar Naranjo told reporters, adding that police have been tracking the cell for a year. Full story