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Santos: Offensive against FARC rebels will continue


12:27, November 06, 2011

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos speaks to the media in Popayan, November 5, 2011. Colombian forces killed FARC commander Alfonso Cano on Friday in the biggest blow yet to Latin America's longest insurgency and a triumph for President Santos, the Defense Ministry said. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

POPAYAN, Colombia, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos warned on Saturday that no member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group will be safe while they stay armed.

"We do not know what will happen or what they will decide (but what is clear) is that no member of the FARC will be safe in our territory," Santos told the press in the southern region of Cauca where the FARC's top leader was killed.

"There is no corner of the country where the police and the army won't arrive," said the president from a military base in Popayan, Cauca.

The operation "Odysseus" held on Friday in a rural area of this region has resulted in the death of FARC leader Guillermo Leon Saenz, better known as alias "Alfonso Cano."

"The only thing this does is double the enthusiasm, the strength and the perseverance of our armed forces" in the fight against this and other illegal organizations, Santos said, surrounded by military commanders.

Speaking to the rebels, the president reiterated his invitation to demobilize and surrender their weapons, so they can return to civilian life.

"What I just want to say is that it's time to demobilize, to decide to disarm, because as I have said many times, the alternative (if you ignore this recommendation) is a prison or a grave," he noted.

The death of Cano, the mastermind and chief representative of the political wing from the insurgent group, constitutes the most crushing blow to the organization since it came into being mid- 1960s.

News reports indicated that the body of the former guerrilla leader remained on the premises of the official forensic agency in Popayn, where tests were performed for his identification.

There is no official report on the cause of the death -- whether it was the result of the Air Force bombing in the early hours of Friday or gunshot wounds in combat.

The Saenz family who have no ties to the FARC is said to claim the body in the coming days for the funeral ritual.

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