Three journalists from the Quito newspaper El Comercio were killed as Colombian army troops closed in on the jungle hiding place of former FARC commander El Guacho.
According to Ariel Ávila, a sociologist and coordinator of the Colombia Observatory of Armed Conflict, troops advanced to within 400 meters of the rebel camp in Nariña State, Colombia, when a firefight erupted on the night of April 11. “During the fight, the journalists were shot and killed as Guacho and his men abandoned camp,” Ávila said.
Ávila says that Guacho was shot in the leg during the gun battle. “It’s unclear how badly he was injured but the troops said the wound was serious,” he said.
In a television interview in Colombia, Ávila criticized management of the joint Ecuadorian and Colombian efforts to rescue the journalists and capture Guacho. “The operation and its tragic result demonstrates the lack of coordination between the armed forces of Colombia and Ecuador.” He added that coordination has improved following the deaths of the journalists.
In addition to his expertise on armed conflict in Colombia, Ávila is a spokesperson for the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation, a Colombian non-profit organization that has facilitated negotiations between the government and rebel and paramilitary groups.