Colombian rebel leader 'Karina' surrenders

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Nelly Avila Moreno, a high-ranking member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (aka FARC) known by the alias 'Karina', surrendered to Colombian police on the weekend, bringing the number of FARC commanders who have surrendered, been captured or been killed in the past year to six.

Moreno, along with her partner and daughter, surrendered to undercover Colombian police officers after two weeks of private negotiation. It is not known whether the charges laid against her - including murder, drug trafficking, terrorism and kidnapping - are to be dropped in exchange for her surrender.

At a press conference, Moreno outlined her reasons for surrender, including increased pressure from the Colombian army, and fear that her own troops may have decided to kill her in exchange for a US$900,000 reward. A member of the FARC secretariat, known by the alias Ivan Rios, was shot by his bodyguard who later attempted to claim a US$2.5 million bounty.

The surrender is a political coup for President Alvaro Uribe, who has run a campaign of "carrot and stick" measures to eliminate FARC that have seen over 1,000 guerillas turn themselves in to join a government-sponsored reintegration program. Moreno refuted claims that she had been involved in the murder of Uribe's father in 1983.