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Military

VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-324470 Colombia / Nicaragua Rebels (L-only)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=5/6/05

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=COLOMBIA / NICARAGUA REBELS (L-ONLY)

NUMBER=2-324470

BYLINE= CARMEN GENTILE

DATELINE= RIO DE JANEIRO

HEADLINE: Colombia Finds Foreign Guns in Rebel Camp

INTRO: The Colombian military says it has found a cache of military rifles from Nicaragua in a camp belonging to the nation's leading left-wing rebel group.

As Carmen Gentile reports for VOA from Rio de Janeiro, the military officials

say the discovery is evidence the rebels have contacts in Central America.

TEXT: The Colombian military says it found the Nicaraguan rifles in a camp belonging to the nation's leading left-wing rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Colombian officials accuse FARC of trading drugs to arms dealers in Nicaragua for assault rifles and other weaponry.

In a statement Thursday, Colombian Navy Captain Jairo Pena Gomez said the weapons were found at the FARC camp along Colombia's Yurumangui River.

/// GOMEZ ACUTALITY IN SPANISH, EST AND FADE UNDER///

Captain Gomez says 18 rifles were discovered in the camp, six of which were

the property of the Nicaraguan National guard.

Nicaraguan officials say the arms are assault rifles stolen from the military or left over from Nicaragua's civil war in the 1980s.

Captain Gomez said other items found in the camp included 12-thousand

rounds of ammunition and almost seven-hundred grenades, as well as other explosives, communications equipment and 15 tons of food and other provisions.

The Colombian government has been battling the FARC rebels for over 40 years, with thousands killed every year on both sides of the conflict.

The government accuses the rebels of using the highly lucrative drug trade to fund their war with the Colombian government. They are also believed to have cells in several Central American nations besides Nicaragua.

In March, Hondura's security minister, Oscar Alvarez, said that FARC cells were

active in his country. Mr. Alvarez accused the FARC of seeking more weapons and trying to destabilize the region.

Colombia is the world's number one producer of cocaine and a major supplier of

heroin.

According to the State Department's annual report on terrorism, the FARC is

also suspected of infiltrating many of Colombia's neighbors including Panama and

Brazil. The United States and Colombia both consider the FARC a terrorist

organization. (Signed)

NEB/CG/KL



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