(Reuters) – Colombia’s leftist guerrillas on Wednesday killed five oil contractors working for the state-run petroleum company Ecopetrol, hurting the country’s image as a prime destination for oil and mining investment.
Despite a decade-long offensive against Marxist rebels, Latin America’s No. 4 oil producer is facing increased attacks on economic infrastructure, especially in remote jungle areas where many oil contractors search for heavy crude.
The attack by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, took place early on Wednesday in the Putumayo province, a remote southern region which borders Ecuador, the army said.
Three contractors were also wounded in the assault, according to the army and Ecopetrol statements.
Only a day earlier, the guerrillas blew up a section of the 220,000-barrel-per-day-capacity Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline in the northeastern province Norte de Santander.
Rebels have blown up key pipelines more than 40 times this year – surpassing the total number of attacks in 2010 and on the way to beat last year’s 84 bombings.
The Andean country has ramped up production of crude and other commodities to historic highs since a 2002 U.S.-backed offensive beat rebels back to isolated enclaves.