Dutch woman may be among dead in Colombia clashes: official

27th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Colombian officials were Monday investigating if one of the guerrillas killed in a bunker with rebel military leader Jorge Briceno Suarez was a Dutch woman who joined the militia years ago.

The head of the country's forensics authority said a representative of the Dutch embassy was expected to bring dental records for Tanja Nijmeijer, 32, to the agency on Monday.

Nijmeijer joined the FARC rebels several years ago after working as a teacher in Colombia. Media reports from May 2010 indicated she was believed to be working as Briceno's personal assistant.

"She's one of the most fascinating figures in our long war, present at many of its critical junctures over the last decade," Leon Valencia, a former guerrilla and the author of a book about Nijmeijer, told the New York Times.

Nijmeijer first drew international attention when parts of her diaries were discovered and published after a 2007 raid.

In the entries, she wondered how her life would be different if she had not joined the Marxist movement.

"Would I have been happy as a civilian in the Netherlands?" the Times quoted her as saying in the diaries. "Engaged, married with children?"

But later in the same entry, she seemed proud of her chosen path.

"I've seen it all. Here I move like a fish in water, the jungle is my home. The FARC is my life, my family," she said.

Seven bodies, including three women, were brought to Bogota from the bunker where Briceno was killed in a massive army raid on September 22. Two of the women have already been identified.

Three senior guerrilla leaders were killed in the attack -- a member of the FARC directorate, a regional military commander, and the head of the group's urban militias, according to the military.

Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera had initially rejected the idea that Nijmeijer had been killed in the operation.

But the head of the Armed Forces told reporters Monday that officials had information that she was in fact in the area at the time.

© 2010 AFP

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