Government forces have killed Alfonso Cano, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia [FARC], during combat operations, the country’s defence ministry has said.
Juan Carlos Pinzon, the defence minister, said on Saturday that Cano was killed after government forces bombed a FARC jungle hideout in the southwestern Cauca region on Friday.
The death of Cano, 63, who took over leadership of the rebels after their founder died in 2008, would be a strategic victory for President Juan Manuel Santos, who came to office last year promising to keep up a hardline stance against the rebels.
The government had offered up to $5m for information that would lead to his capture.
Pictures of his dead body, with his trademark beard shaven off, have been broadcast on television.
“It is the most devastating blow that this group has suffered in its history,” Santos said in a brief televised address to the nation.
“I want to send a message to each and every member of that organisation: ‘demobilise’ … or otherwise you will end up in a prison or in a tomb. We will achieve peace.”
The sign of justice is again a shaven face.