Defense minister: Rebels not only priority

Sept. 12, 2011 at 7:48 PM
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BOGOTA, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Colombia's new defense minister says chasing down rebels isn't the only responsibility the military has on its plate.

Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon noted there are always ongoing military operations aimed at capturing rebel forces and there are other priorities, as well, El Espectador reported Monday.

"I think it would be unwise to determine any dates for these things, or to focus all our efforts as if the only job of the armed forces is to exclusively pursue [rebel] leaders," Pinzon said.

While some of his predecessors had announced expected dates of capture, Pinzon said he would wait until targeted leaders are apprehended before making any statements.

The Colombian military has been trying to track down Guillermo Leon Saenz, who has led the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, since 2008.

President Juan Manuel Santos had said Saenz would be caught soon after an attack on a FARC camp in July.

Pinzon became defense minister after Rodrigo Rivera abruptly resigned last Wednesday amid a resurgence of violence by rebel and criminal gangs.

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