Colombia Steps Up Attacks on Rebels

AFTER a wave of bombings in two major cities that destroyed eight police posts and injured at least 39 people, Colombia's government vowed Wednesday to crush Marxist guerrillas who have waged war on the state for 30 years.

The government stepped up attacks on the rebel groups after announcing a 90-day state of emergency Nov. 8. following a rebel attack on a police post in the Amazon jungle province of Putumayo that killed 26 officers.

Television footage from the area showed Army helicopter gunships pounding rebel encampments and firing rockets at alleged guerrilla installations. The Defense Ministry declined to give details of the operations, though Defense Minister Rafael Pardo said: "Wherever it is necessary and we have the means and we need to act with that force, we will."

A national TV program said the government has set a $1.4 million reward for the capture of the two main rebel leaders, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia chief Manuel Marulanda Velez and National Liberation Army head Manuel Perez.

President Cesar Gaviria Trujillo said he will use emergency powers "to finish off the totalitarians and to save democracy."

But the bombings have not been curbed. In Cali a powerful shrapnel bomb exploded Wednesday morning outside a government office, injuring at least 28 people, a Red Cross official said. In Medellin, smaller bombs exploded, destroying at least eight police posts and injuring 11 people. Police in both cities blame a collusion of guerrillas and drug traffickers.

Four guerrilla groups have signed peace treaties with the government since 1988, but other groups have stepped up attacks since peace talks bogged down in May. Mexicans protest vote fraud

Mexican opposition activists protesting alleged vote fraud set fire to election authority offices Wednesday in the border town of Matamoros in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, the state news agency Notimex said.

Witnesses said members of the opposition coalition were angered by the beating of a woman by guards at the election office during a protest against the Nov. 8 election results. The protesters set the office on fire with a Molotov cocktail, destroying ballot boxes held there, the agency said.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has ruled Mexico for 63 years, claimed a crushing victory in gubernatorial, municipal, and state legislative elections in Tamaulipas.

Representatives of opposition parties accused the PRI gubernatorial candidate of engineering massive fraud, and threatened to hold protests on the bridges linking Mexico with Texas.

Opponents are also claiming fraud in elections in the states of Sinaloa and Puebla.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.