Colombia captures woman rebel close to FARC chief: police

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Colombian authorities have captured two senior rebel leaders, including a female member of the FARC's security detail, police said Monday.

Police Colonel Flavio Mesa said Margot Silva and Toribio Saavedra, both high-ranking members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, were picked up in Hobo and Pitalito, both towns in the southern department of Huila.

Silva, alias "Daniela," and Saavedra were considered important members of the Central Joint Command of Colombia's main insurgency, with 8,000 fighters at arms, Mesa added.

Daniela was a radio operator for the column that protects FARC leader Alfonso Cano, who took over the guerrilla leadership after the death of Manuel Marulanda, known as "Tirofijo."

But she is not the only female FARC member to make headlines in recent weeks. Three women were killed during a September 22 air and ground assault that killed the FARC's military leader Victor Julio Suarez, known as Jorge Briceno or Mono Jojoy.

Another woman believed to be in the ranks of the Marxist rebels has also come to the attention of police in recent weeks.

Authorities are investigating the fate of Tanja Nijmeijer, a 32-year-old who left a middle-class life in the Netherlands to fight alongside Mono Jojoy, after forensic and dental records showed she was not among the three women killed in the raid, as police had initially believed.

The raid was part of a multi-front offensive waged by President Juan Manuel Santos's government.

Soldiers and police backed by military air power have been combing rural and mountainous areas for months searching for Cano, the new FARC leader, in Huila, Cauca and Tolima.

© 2010 AFP

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