Local media claimed on Sunday that a dissident former leader of Colombia’s Farc guerrillas was murdered in an ambush in Venezuela.
El Paisa, Hernán Daro Velásquez, was reportedly shot and killed in Venezuela’s Apure state.
His death has yet to be formally confirmed, and the Colombian army has stated that it was unaware of his demise.
Mercenaries may have assassinated Velásquez in exchange for a bounty for his arrest, according to local media.
Colombian officials informed the daily El Tiempo that they would not confirm his death until they saw his remains. Colombian President Iván Duque’s administration is seeking additional details, according to a Reuters spokeswoman.
The Farc rebels were a Marxist organization who fought the Colombian government for more than 50 years before agreeing to a truce in 2016.
Velásquez, the commander of one of the Farc’s most dreaded regiments, became known for the brutality of his attacks. In 2003, he was responsible for a vehicle explosion in Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, that killed 36 people and injured almost 200 more.
When he agreed to participate in peace negotiations in Havana in 2016, many interpreted it as a sign that the rebels were serious about laying down their guns.
However, he breached the cease-fire in 2018 and returned a year later with former Farc commanders Iván Márquez and Jess Santrich to proclaim the establishment of a new rebel organization named Segunda Marquetalia and vow that he would resume fighting.
If his death is verified, it will be the group’s second severe setback this year. Santrich, a crucial player in the peace process, was slain in a gunfight in Venezuela in May, allegedly by Colombian army commandos, according to the dissident organization.
Since the 2016 ceasefire, almost 13,000 Farc insurgents have put down their guns, and the group has evolved into a tiny political party with ten members in Colombia’s assembly.
Nonetheless, violence persists in several Colombian districts, with an estimated 5,000 dissidents fighting government troops.
The Colombian administration has accused Venezuelan officials of harboring Farc dissidents on many occasions, and has alleged that an attack on a helicopter transporting President Duque in June was orchestrated by the neighboring country.