Colombian rebels say they killed governor

AP News
Posted: Jan 05, 2010 11:05 PM

Colombia's leftist guerrillas said Tuesday they killed a kidnapped governor last month because of a government order to rescue rebel-held hostages.

The body of Caqueta Gov. Luis Francisco Cuellar, who was abducted on Dec. 21, was found with the throat slashed near the state capital of Florencia the following day. President Alvaro Uribe blamed Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas for his death.

In a statement posted on the web site of the news agency ANNCOL, which regularly carries FARC communications, the rebels acknowledged killing Cuellar but said they had planned to try him for alleged corruption and ties to right-wing paramilitaries, not execute him or hold him for ransom.

The statement, dated Dec. 24 and signed by the FARC's Southern Bloc, said his death was "an undesired and tragic consequence of the order given by Alvaro Uribe to the armed forces to rescue with fire and blood" the rebel-held hostages.

Uribe, a staunch U.S. ally, had ordered an army operation to free the 69-year-old governor as well as about 20 soldiers and police held by the rebels.

Calls to relatives of Cuellar and officials were not immediately returned.

Colombia's military had speculated that Cuellar's captors killed him because security forces were in pursuit, but state officials said there was no sign of combat in the area.

Cuellar had previously been kidnapped four times since 1987, each time for about two to seven months and in each instance an undisclosed ransom was paid.