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Cablegate: Farc Assassinates Eleven Colombian Hostages

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DE RUEHBO #4716 1792319
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FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
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INFO RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN IMMEDIATE 1288
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA IMMEDIATE 7611
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RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL IMMEDIATE 4002
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UNCLAS BOGOTA 004716

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREF PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: FARC ASSASSINATES ELEVEN COLOMBIAN HOSTAGES

REF: A. REF A) BOGOTA 1224
B. REF B) BOGOTA 3651

1. Summary. The FARC assassinated eleven Colombian state
assemblymen on June 18, according to a FARC communique issued
June 28. The FARC claimed the hostages were killed in a
crossfire during a military attack. President Uribe
condemned the FARC for the murders, and he confirmed that GOC
did not attempt a rescue. The president also confirmed the
GOC would consult with family members prior to launching
rescue attempts, and that the GOC would also consult with the
USG prior to any rescue attempt of three U.S. citizens held
by the FARC. Uribe reiterated the GOC will not accept a
"despeje" with the FARC, but said that a planned June 29
meeting of European emissaries with the FARC to discuss a
humanitarian accord should go forward. End summary.

2. On June 28, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC) announced in a communique through its unofficial
portal ANNCOL that eleven of twelve assemblymen from the
department of Valle de Cauca taken captive in April 2002,
were killed on June 18, in a cross fire when an unidentified
military group attacked their camp. Assemblyman Sigifredo
Lopez reportedly survived because he was detained in a
different location.

3. President Alvaro Uribe held an emergency security council
meeting the morning of June 28, announcing that the FARC had
assassinated the hostages. Uribe confirmed that no military
rescue operation had taken place when the hostages were
killed. He cited numerous cases in which the FARC had
executed hostages and later justified the executions with the
false excuse of a rescue/crossfire. Uribe stated the GOC
would, in all cases, consult with hostage family members
prior to any rescue attempt--citing the case of Foreign
Minister Fernando Araujo, freed from the FARC in a military
rescue attempt in January (Ref A)--and said no consultation
in this case had occurred because there had been no rescue
attempt. Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos provided
details for the media on all military operations around the
date of the killings in the southwest of Colombia; none
matched the FARC description of events.

4. Uribe also confirmed that he would consult with the USG
prior to launching any rescue attempt for Marc Gonsalves,
Keith Stansell and Thomas Howes (Ref B) (or with the French
Government in the case of Ingrid Betancourt). Uribe added
that the GOC had not determined the location of the AMCIT
hostages or Betancourt. The president asked the international
community to condemn the FARC for the killings and to provide
forensic assistance to find the remains of the assassinated
hostages and investigate the facts surrounding their
killings.

5. Finally, Uribe reiterated that the GOC "will not accept a
zone of despeje" or free members of the FARC who intend to
return to FARC ranks. He said that French, Swiss, and
Spanish emissaries should move ahead with a planned meeting
with the FARC on June 29 in Geneva to discuss a possible
humanitarian accord to free remaining hostages.

6. President Uribe's office asked the Embassy to provide a
Spanish version of the Department spokesman's press statement
to be posted on the presidency's web site. We are
translating the guidance which we understand was used by the
Department on June 28.
Drucker

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