January 29, 2018 / 7:24 PM / 20 days ago

Ecuador links police barracks bombing to Colombia FARC dissidents

QUITO (Reuters) - A group of dissidents from the Colombia’s former FARC guerrilla group were likely behind an attack on a police station in Ecuador, in retaliation for offensives against drug trafficking in the Andean nation, Ecuador’s defence minister said on Monday.

A car bomb exploded on Saturday outside a police station in the town of San Lorenzo, on the border with Colombia, wrecking the station, damaging other houses in the area, and leaving 28 people with minor injuries.

“They are dissident groups of the FARC, dissident groups of a subversive movement that our brothers in Colombia has and that we are fighting because they have dedicated themselves to drug trafficking,” Defense Minister Patricio Zambrano told reporters in Quito.

Police investigators look for evidence at the scene of a bomb explosion at a police station in San Lorenzo, Ecuador January 27, 2018. Picture taken January 27, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Tapia

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) fought the Colombian government for more than 52 years, but demobilized after a 2016 peace deal.

Though thousands of members handed over their arms, more than 1,000 are estimated to have refused, choosing to continue lucrative drug trafficking and illegal mining.

Police seized more than seven tons of chemicals and another ton of drugs in recent days and arrested seven people linked to dissident FARC operating on the border, according to official data.

Zambrano said the groups are seeking to “frighten the population” as the government combats drug trafficking.

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Helen Murphy; Editing by David Gregorio

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