Colombia's army has seized a surface-to-air missile from alleged Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas in the conflictive southwestern province of Cauca, a television network said.
The SAM missile, whose discovery has not been officially confirmed by the Defense Ministry, was seized two weeks ago in the southwestern town of Morales, Caracol TV reported Friday, showing images of the weapon.
It would mark the first time Colombian security forces have confiscated a weapon of this type from the FARC. Russian-made missiles were seized early this year in Cauca, one of the provinces hardest hit by the decades-old armed conflict.
The FARC reportedly acquired the missile on the black market in a Central American country, according to Caracol TV, and was planning to use it against airplanes and helicopters employed in security-force operations against the guerrillas.
The weapon is reportedly being investigated by U.S. government experts to determine how and where the rebel organization acquired it.
In July, the FARC claimed responsibility for shooting down a Colombian air force Super Tucano plane in Cauca amid heavy combat between security forces and the rebels.
The government said then that the rebels did not possess weapons capable of shooting down a military aircraft. The two occupants of the plane died in that incident, which the Defense Ministry blamed on an accident.
The FARC has battled a succession of Colombian governments since 1964. The Marxist insurgency swelled to nearly 20,000 fighters in the early 2000s, but now numbers around 8,500 combatants.
Colombia's armed forces, bolstered by billions of dollars of aid from the United States, have scored dramatic successes against the FARC in recent years, but the rebels remain capable of inflicting significant damage on the military and on vulnerable infrastructure, including oil pipelines. EFE