A surge in violence has seen Colombian terror group FARC slay eight national soliders in an attack in the country's south west.
The attack, in Cauca, a southwestern region of the South America country, happened despite the left-wing rebel group signing a peace agreement with the government in 2016.
The soldiers killed were aged from just 18 to 20 and faced a barrage of grenades, improvised explosive devices and gunfire in the attack, according to the army.
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“It was an infiltration operation” by one of the main dissident factions, President Gustavo Petro said.
In the same area the armed group, who engage in drug trafficking and other illicit activities, killed three more military personnel over the weekend.
The total violence approach which flys in the face of Petro's “total peace” plan defines the group, who indicated as recently as September that they would consider putting down their guns.
There was hope that Petro, who became Colombia's first left-wing president in August, could quell the growing tide of violence after meeting with senior FARC figures, but the brutal killings have continued.
The rebel group, who SAS legend Andy McNab once described as the hardest fighters he had ever encountered, previously said the government had failed to keep the terms of the peace deal signed in 2016.
FARC killed at least 460 members of the security forces in 2016 and more than 2,000 in 2010 alone, according to horrifying state statistics.
Even as the peace talks went on, human rights organisations were reporting sickening abuses by the group: “As the FARC discusses peace in Havana with the Colombian government, its members have been brutalising some of the most vulnerable communities in Colombia,” said José Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch for the Americas.
“Colombia’s failure to deliver justice in many regions has emboldened the FARC and other armed groups to commit horrific crimes against the civilian population.”
The organisation has been condemned internationally for their barbaric tactics, as well as abuses against civilians, including murder, rape, kidnappings, and the use of child soldiers.
FARC has also drawn criticism for its use of gas cylinders as improvised mortar bombs, which are notoriously inaccurate and cause widespread collateral damage.
It uses both terrorist tactics and conventional military means in pursuit of their goal to turn Colombia into a communist state dominated by peasant farmers.
They were also involved in economic warfare further afield.
A recent US Drug Enforcement Administration reports revealed that former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had ordered “fighting the United States by flooding the country with cocaine” supplied by FARC.
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It was also set to support the effort by supplying boats, armed guards and IT equipment.
Although the 2016 peace talks led to many FARC rebels handing in their weapons, the organisation remains militarily formidable.
They had prolonged contact with the IRA, leading to an exchange of expertise and material relating to bomb-making – and they have even reportedly obtained anti-aircraft missiles from the Venezuelan military.
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