Forty-five persons were killed in two battles between leftist Colombian guerrillas and the Army on Saturday, officials said yesterday.
Local radio stations quoted by Reuter said 10 guerrillas, eight civilians and a policeman were killed in eight hours of street fighting in Cali, Colombia's third-largest city, between the Army and forces of the rebel Movement 19 that assaulted the Palace of Justice in Bogota last month. Cali, with a population of 1.4 million, is 200 miles southwest of here.
"The operation continues," said a Defense Ministry source, adding that the M19 and perhaps other leftist groups had taken "refuge" in Cali's slums, setting up "guerrilla schools" to train "10- and 12-year-old children."
The Army said 23 rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia were killed, along with two civilians and a soldier close to the border with Panama. The Army was searching for kidnaped engineer Fabio Arango and rancher Jose Blanca when the battle occurred, the report said.
Both rebel groups signed a truce with the government of President Belisario Betancur last year, but the M19 guerrillas took up arms again in June. The Revolutionary Armed Forces group had been thought to be abiding by the truce.