The Colombian military has killed nine rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces in Colombia (FARC), President Ivan Duque said.
A FARC commander and eight other guerrillas were killed in a bombing raid in southern Colombia on Friday, just days after the group announced it was taking up arms again to ensure their political rights under an historic peace agreement.
Duque said the attack occurred in the municipality of San Vicente del Caguan, located in the province of Caqueta, after he authorized a military operation in rural areas in the southern part of the country.
Duque said Friday's bombing sends "a clear message" to FARC members to lay down their weapons.
Among those killed was a rebel known by his alias, Gildardo Cucho, a member of a group led by former FARC chief negotiator Luciano Marin, who was trying to recruit potential rebels for a new guerrilla movement.
On Thursday, former FARC commander Ivan Marquez announced in a video that a new offensive would be launched, three years after FARC signed a peace deal with the government, ending five decades of armed conflict in the South American country.
"This is the continuation of the rebel fight in answer to the betrayal of the state," Marquez, in a 32-minute YouTube video. "We were never beaten or defeated ideologically, so the struggle continues."
Marquez, a former chief rebel negotiator, appeared alongside some 20 heavily armed guerrillas when he made the announcement, which comes amid severe challenges to the complex peace agreement.
In response to the FARC announcement, Duque said "Colombia takes no threats. Not of any nature."
Colombia's peace tribunal also has issued arrest warrants for Marquez and the others who have pledged to take up the insurgency again.
President Duque is offering an $863,000 reward for information leading to the capture of anyone who appeared in the YouTube video, according to Reuters.
Hundreds of former rebels and human rights activists have been murdered since the accord was signed. That, coupled with delays in funding for economic efforts by former rebels — has exacerbated deep political divisions within the country.
Marquez said the group's objective is to ensure the installation of a government that will promote peace. Marquez said the group will fight corruption and fracking (the hydraulic fracturing crude oil extraction process) and demand payments from participants in illicit economies and from multinational corporations.
About 7,000 rebels surrendered their weapons to United Nations observers as part of the agreement that was negotiated with the support of the United States, Cuba and Norway. But smaller rebel groups and drug traffickers have filled the void, leaving many citizens frustrated with the slow pace of implementing the agreement.
Security sources estimate the force commanded by Marquez could number 2,200 fighters.