BOGOTA, COLOMBIA, JAN. 25 -- The Medellin cocaine cartel vowed today to renew its war against the government and execute kidnapped journalists after police carried out a bloody rescue operation that left one prominent journalist and three kidnappers dead.
"We will re-initiate our military operations as a consequence of the laws that allow Colombians to be extradited to other countries, and as a result of the executions, massacres and torture by the National Police," said a cartel communique sent to local news media. "We will execute two of the journalists in our power as reprisal for these tortures and massacres."
The rescue operation drew immediate criticism from some civilian authorities, and appeared to signal the end of the process that many Colombians believed would stop the narco-terrorism that has racked the country for six years.
"We are investigating to see who was responsible for this operation, because it appears unnecessary," Juan Guillermo Sepulveda, attorney general for Medellin, said in a radio interview. "Please do not let the war begin again. Please, God."
According to a police bulletin, 120 members of an elite anti-kidnapping group attacked a farm five miles east of Medellin where the traffickers, who call themselves the Extraditables, were holding Diana Turbay and another journalist.
Turbay, 37, editor of Hoy por Hoy magazine and daughter of former president Julio Cesar Turbay, was shot three times and died at 5 p.m., according to a bulletin from General Hospital in Medellin.
A police spokesman said two officers were wounded in the operation and three kidnappers were killed. Police said the traffickers shot Turbay in the back as she ran toward her rescuers. Richard Becerra, 27, a cameraman held with her, escaped unhurt.
The rescue attempt surprised many observers because it came after two top leaders of the Medellin cartel had surrendered to authorities and the traffickers had stopped their terrorist attacks.
On Sept. 5, President Cesar Gaviria said traffickers who turned themselves in and confessed to a crime would not be extradited and would receive reduced sentences. But he has said that extradition will be maintained as a secondary tool to deal with traffickers who are captured. The decree led to the surrender earlier this month of Fabio and Jorge Luis Ochoa, two top leaders of the cartel.