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Colombian governor found murdered

The body of a kidnapped governor was found riddled with bullets on Tuesday, hours after Colombian President Alvaro Uribe launched a massive operation to rescue him from Marxist rebels.

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Caqueta Governor Luis Francisco Cuellar’s body was discovered by farmers near the charred remains of a car from which Cuellar was kidnapped, 15 kilometres south of Caqueta department capital, Florencia.

The corpse was lying in the midst of explosives, local media said.

Interim Caqueta governor Olga Patricia Vega said she was told of the body’s identity by Defence Minister Gabriel Silva.

Silva “personally called me to confirm the news. I no longer have any doubts that FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) has done it again,” Vega told Caracol radio.

The FARC, Latin America’s oldest and longest-fighting rebel force, has stepped up its attacks lately despite Uribe’s effort to stamp them out. It holds captive hundreds of hostages, including soldiers and local officials.

Violent kidnapping

A unit of the FARC on Monday lobbed a grenade at Cuellar’s residence in Florencia and exchanged gunfire with security guards before kidnapping the governor and fleeing.

Vega said that after he was kidnapped, Cuellar apparently had trouble walking which led to his execution by his captors.

Vega said Cuellar, who turned 69 on Tuesday, had been kidnapped four times before he became governor.

Uribe announced earlier onTuesday a “full military and police rescue operation” to find Cuellar and 24 troops held by FARC rebels, saying: “we cannot be subjected to the whims of terrorists.”

The United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights in Bogota issued a statement condemning Cuellar’s kidnapping and murder and called on FARC to “immediately and unconditionally set free all the captives it is holding.”

Uribe has rejected a political dialogue with the FARC, which is seeking a prisoner swap with the government to exchange its hostages for 500 FARC rebels in government jails.

Last year some of the FARC’s most high-profile hostages were rescued from their jungle captivity, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans.

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