Bogota, Jun 6 (EFE).- Colombia’s UBPD missing persons unit has found 21 bodies that may correspond to 21 members of the now-defunct FARC guerrilla group killed by the army in 2000 as the administration of President Andres Pastrana was talking peace with the rebels.
The discoveries came during the UBPD’s second search of the municipal cemetery in Bucaramanga, capital of the northeastern province of Santander, for the remains of 73 insurgents, including 16 women.
During the first search, carried out in August 2022, teams found 25 bodies in a single grave, UBPD forensic anthropologist Carlos Andres Ariza said.
“We have encountered the characteristics regarding sex, approximate age, and wounds,” Ariza said in explaining why the UBPD suspect the remains are those of the FARC guerrillas who disappeared in Santander and neighboring Norte de Santander more than 22 years ago.
The 73 rebels were part of a column of roughly 365 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) fighters who were headed to the Catatumbo region in Norte de Santander from what was then a Switzerland-sized demilitarized zone centered on San Vicente del Caguan in the southern province of Caqueta.
During the 1999-2002 period, the bulk of the FARC was concentrated in the demilitarized zone during peace talks with the Pastrana administration.
The FARC column that set out for Catatumbo was intercepted by the army and a survivor of the military’s “Operation Berlin,” Arsenio Silva, is now a regional coordinator of the search for the nearly 90,000 victims of Colombia’s 1948-2016 internal conflict whose bodies have never been found.
The UBPD, created following the 2016 peace accord between the government and the FARC, has so far handed over to the medical examiner’s office 786 bodies of possible conflict victims, including 33 who may have been killed in Operation Berlin.