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Colombia's President Blames Intelligence Failure for Attack


Colombian President Alvaro Uribe traveled to the site of a recent attack by arms rebels on Colombian soldiers that left 19 dead near the Ecuadorian border and another six near Venezuela.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe blames intelligence failures for the recent attacks on Colombian troops by armed rebels in the oil-rich southwest region of the country.

Mr. Uribe said Monday "there were intelligence failures on our part, and there was no coordination between the operations and intelligence branches."

The Colombian president traveled to the site of one of the weekend attacks to oversee the military's counteroffensive.

More than one-thousand troops backed by helicopters were deployed to southern Colombia to cut off rebels trying to escape across the porous jungle border into Ecuador where forces cannot pursue them.

Mr. Uribe said he would also hold talks with his Ecuadorian counterpart this week on ways to prevent the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, from using Ecuador as a safe haven.

FARC has been waging a war against the government for four decades, funding its operations from the sale of drugs and kidnappings for ransom. Analysts say the recent attacks are an attempt to embarrass President Uribe who is claiming his government is winning the war.

Some 35-hundred people are killed every year on both sides of the conflict. The weekend death toll was the highest for Colombia's military since President Uribe came to power in 2002. However attacks by FARC have been on the rise in recent months leaving dozens of soldiers and civilians dead.

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