Colombian police and troops captured 13 suspected FARC guerrillas on Nasa Indian land in the strife-torn southwestern province of Cauca, authorities said Friday.

The two women and 11 men taken into custody are all residents of the village of El Palo and some may be members of the Nasa community, whose leaders demand that "all armed actors" in Colombia's internal conflict leave indigenous territory.

The suspected rebels were apprehended Friday in a pre-dawn raid, the provincial police commander, Gen. Jorge Hernando Nieto, told Efe from Popayan, Cauca's capital.

Eighteen homes were searched in "a surprise operation carried out in coordination" with the army, Nieto said.

The people arrested Friday aided the insurgents who killed two police and a soldier in a grenade attack six months ago in El Palo, the army and police said in a joint statement.

The suspects were part of the "support networks" used by the 6th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, authorities said.

El Palo lies within the ancestral territory of the roughly 100,000 Nasa Indians, who five weeks ago declared themselves in "permanent resistance" with the aim of expelling the security forces and the guerrillas from their land.

Colombia's 1991 constitution guarantees autonomy for the nation's indigenous peoples and gives them the right to exercise control over their officially designated territories.

Intense fighting in Cauca between government forces and the FARC drove more than 2,800 indigenous and mestizo people from their homes in July.

President Juan Manuel Santos traveled this week to La Maria, the main Nasa reserve, after the breakdown of talks between the Indians and members of his government.

Santos asked forgiveness for the suffering Colombia's decades-long conflict has caused in Cauca and told the Nasa: "I respect the dignity of the indigenous peoples."

The Nasa walked away from talks with Interior Minister Federico Renjifo last Sunday and demanded a direct dialogue with Santos, saying their demands for autonomy and sovereignty must be addressed at the highest level. EFE