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Montevideo, June 13th 2024 - 00:12 UTC



Colombian Armed Forces report missing ammo

Wednesday, May 1st 2024 - 14:38 UTC
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Petro fears the guns might be in the hands of Colombian rebels Petro fears the guns might be in the hands of Colombian rebels

Colombian President Gustavo Petro said Tuesday that thousands of grenades, bullets, and 37 anti-tank missiles had gone missing from the Tolemaida and La Guajira Army bases. The head of state also explained during a press conference in Bogotá alongside Defense Minister Ivan Velásquez and Colombia's Armed Forces Commander General Helder Giraldo that “there have been networks for a long time – made up of people from the military and civilian forces – dedicated to a massive arms trade, using the legal weapons of the Colombian State.”

The military equipment missing is feared to be in the possession of rebel groups. Other theories viewed it as sold to criminal groups abroad such as the gangs spreading across Haiti. In Petro's opinion, the stolen weaponry was ”for armed groups in Colombia (...), probably for foreign conflicts, the closest being Haiti (...) and probably also for the international arms smuggling market.”

“The only way to explain these missing items is that there are networks made up of people within the armed forces who are involved in the illegal arms trade,” Petro said while announcing further checks to detach “the armed forces from any type of criminal organization.”

“It was detected that there are more than a million ammunition, explosives, grenades, and lost weapons after inspections were carried out within the Public Force, on February 12 in Tolemaida and on April 1 in La Guajira,” Petro also pointed out.

The Colombian armed forces are presently engaged in a fight with the FARC-EMC rebel group that span off from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia after the 2016 peace accord. Petro has been trying to get new permanent ceasefires since coming to power in 2022 with insurgents that continue to lead a profitable business through the kidnapping of civilians. Those opposing Petro's pacifist drive claim that peace talks have helped rebels strengthen their positions and gain more influence over communities.

The missing arsenal includes 1.62, 5.56, and 7.62 caliber ammunition, grenades of different types, as well as Spike and Nimrod anti-tank missiles (Israeli-made) and RPG rockets, the presidency said. Earlier this year, Petro announced that Colombia would no longer be buying guns from Israel in reprisal for Tel Aviv's “genocidal” actions in Gaza.

In October, in response to Petro's pro-Palestine stance, Israel announced the suspension “of security exports to Colombia.” Israel used to be one of the main suppliers of the Colombian Armed Forces, mainly of spare parts for Kfir fighter planes, acquired in the 1980s, when Galil rifles, manufactured under Israeli license, also arrived in the country.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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