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Colombian Police Arrest Suspected Rebel Commander - 2003-12-16


Colombian secret police have arrested a suspected leftist rebel leader wanted for the murder of a kidnapped Japanese executive and the deadly bombing of a Bogota nightclub.

Officials say DAS secret police arrested Wilmer Antonio Marin Cano, also known as "Hugo," Monday in the capital.

Investigators say Mr. Marin Cano was in charge of the 22nd front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which killed Japanese businessman Chikao Muramatsu last month.

The 55-year-old businessman was found shot to death last month in mountains west of Bogota, nearly three years after he was abducted by common criminals and turned over to the FARC. Authorities believe the murder was masterminded by Mr. Marin Cano.

Authorities also sought Mr. Marin Cano in connection with February's bombing of Bogota's "El Nogal" nightclub, which left at least 33 people dead and dozens wounded.

Mr. Marin Cano's arrest took place as the country's smaller rebel group, the National Liberation Army, indicated it would soon release five foreign tourists it has been holding since September.

But, the ELN rebels said they wanted the army to first pull back from the northern jungle region where the four Israelis and one Briton are being held.

The ELN said that as proof of its flexibility and maturity, it wants to free the hostages in the coming days and that it hopes to avoid a tragedy. Last week, the ELN said it was suspending plans to free the captives, citing ongoing military operations in the area.

The captives were among eight foreigners kidnapped in September. One hostage, a Briton, escaped. A Spaniard and a German were later released.

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