Clashes between Ecuadorian soldiers and Colombian rebels in a border area have left one army officer and five insurgents dead, a senior military official says.
The fighting took place on Thursday in the Ecuadorian province of Sucumbios. Another soldier was also reported wounded and two rebels were captured. In response to the attack, Ecuadorian Defense Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa said Ecuador would strengthen its security forces along the border with Colombia. The country’s Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino also urged Bogota to reinforce its security in the border area, saying, "No armed groups are tolerated in Ecuador." The fighting erupted after an Ecuadorian patrol encountered an unidentified armed group on its territory in the province of Sucumbios. The rebels reportedly mistook the soldiers for a Colombian army patrol and attacked them. According to the head of Colombia’s armed forces General Leonardo Barreiro, the rebels began shooting while bullets were also fired from Colombia across the San Miguel River. The unnamed armed group is likely to belong to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC operating in the area. FARC is the oldest insurgent group in Latin America and has been fighting the Colombian government since 1964. Bogota estimates that 600,000 people have been killed, and some three million others have been internally displaced by the fighting. In addition, 15,000 people have been reported missing. The rebel organization is thought to have around 8,000 fighters operating across a large swathe of the eastern jungles of the Andean nation.