Colombia nabs rebel linked to Uribe inauguration attack

(EFE) – Colombian police captured a purported high-ranking member of the FARC leftist guerrilla group’s Eastern Bloc who is suspected of participating in a deadly 2002 mortar attack during former President Alvaro Uribe’s first inauguration.

In a statement, the National Police said Jaime Aguilar Ramirez was detained Friday in the central province of Meta while riding in a luxury SUV.

Authorities said the guerrilla has been in the ranks of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, for 27 years and is the brother of Gerardo Aguilar Ramirez, who was captured in the dramatic 2008 security force operation that freed 15 rebel captives: Ingrid Betancourt, who ran for president in 2002; three U.S. military contractors; and 11 police and soldiers.

Jaime Aguilar Ramirez is accused of carrying out several terrorist attacks, including one that targeted Uribe’s first swearing-in ceremony in August 2002. The hard-line Uribe was elected to a second four-year term in 2006, mainly on the strength of his success in weakening the FARC.

In that inauguration day attack, FARC members fired a barrage of mortars in the direction of the Nariño presidential palace in Bogota during the ceremony.

Several of the mortar shells landed a few blocks away from the palace, killing at least 27 people and wounding 13 others.

President Juan Manuel Santos congratulated the police on detaining the suspected guerrilla, who was transferred to Bogota.

Santos’ administration and the FARC are currently engaged in talks in Cuba aimed at ending Colombia’s decades-long internal conflict.

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