A pregnant woman, the child she was carrying, another woman and two police officers died when they were attacked by FARC guerrillas while heading to a hospital Monday in southern Colombia, officials said.
Two children were also wounded in the ambush in La Montañita, a town in Caqueta province, where the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, released French journalist Romeo Langlois last week after holding him captive for 33 days.
The attack was staged by the FARC's 15th Front, the same unit that abducted Langlois, Caqueta police chief Col. Carlos Alberto Vargas told Bogota radio stations.
The officers were called by the pregnant woman's family so they could transport her to a hospital, Vargas said.
"The police officers were attacked with bursts of rifle fire and grenades" on the way to the hospital, Vargas told Caracol Radio by telephone from Florencia, the capital of Caqueta.
A 63-year-old woman accompanying the pregnant woman died in the ambush, the police chief said.
The pregnant woman was seriously wounded, lost her baby and died a few hours later at a hospital in Florencia.
Two boys, ages 8 and 9, were wounded by bullets that penetrated the wooden walls of their dwellings, the police chief said.
"We're talking about an attack on the civilian population, a premeditated attack," Vargas said.
The Colombian government has made fighting the FARC a top priority and has obtained billions in U.S. aid for counterinsurgency operations.
The FARC is on both the U.S. and EU lists of terrorist groups. Drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping-for-ransom are the FARC's main means of financing its operations.
The FARC has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years at the hands of the Colombian security forces.
Alfonso Cano, the FARC's top leader, was killed on Nov. 4 in a military and police operation that the government hailed as the biggest blow to the FARC in its nearly 50-year history.
Cano, a 63-year-old intellectual who had entered the ranks of the FARC 30 years ago, was killed in in a remote area of the southwestern province of Cauca a few hours after fleeing a bombardment.
The FARC also suffered a series of blows in 2008, with the biggest coming in July of that year, when the Colombian army rescued a group of high-profile rebel-held captives: former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, U.S. military contractors Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell and Marc Gonsalves, and 11 other Colombian police officers and soldiers. EFE