Six Colombian Police Killed in Guerrilla Attack

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The latest assault by two Colombian rebel groups in a key cocaine area has left six police officers dead. Guerrilla attacks in Columbia have increased since President Juan Manuel Santos, a conservative U.S. ally, took office last month.

Six Colombian police were killed in an attack by cocaine-funded guerrillas on Tuesday.

It is the latest in a series of battles over the past week, in which 45 police, soldiers and rebels have died.

Tuesday's fight took place in the southern province of Narino.

The region is central to the drug production and smuggling operations of both the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and also the National Liberation Army (ELN).

[Rodrigo Rivera, Defense Minister]:
"The first information we have points towards the ELN, which has been weakened in this region but was helped by the FARC in order to have some counter attacks after the very strong hits received by this narco-terrosist organization in the past few weeks."

Authorities said fighters from both outlawed groups assaulted a police station near the town of Samaniego with guns and homemade missiles.

The FARC and ELN have been fighting the state since the 1960s in the name of socialist revolution. They have increased military activity since President Juan Manuel Santos, a conservative U.S. ally, took office last month.

Colombia's cities and highways have become much safer over the last eight years thanks to a U.S.-backed crackdown on the FARC and ELN. Both organizations, branded terrorists by Washington, continue to struggle for control of certain rural areas.

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