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Blast Kills 6 In Colombian National Park

Associated Press
Thursday, August 3, 2006

BOGOTA, Colombia, Aug. 2 -- A land mine planted by leftist rebels killed six coca eradicators and injured seven others in southern Colombia on Wednesday, the government said.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was responsible for the blast in Sierra Macarena National Park, a rebel stronghold, the president's office said in a statement. The FARC has killed several soldiers and park workers eradicating coca.

The seven injured workers were being treated at a hospital.

Eradicators have uprooted about 7,165 acres of coca, the raw material for cocaine, in the Macarena park since January, according to the government. The effort is the largest manual eradication program in Colombia's history.

The government started the program after rebels killed 29 soldiers in the park in December. It said the effort would remove a major source of financing for the rebels.

Although dangerous, manual eradication of coca is more effective than aerial fumigation.

Colombia is the world's largest producer of cocaine, which funds all the illegal groups fighting the country's more than four-decade civil war.

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