Bogota – Seven FARC guerrillas were killed by the security forces over the weekend in Colombia, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rebels died in operations launched by the government to provide security during Sunday's local and regional elections, Pinzon said.
The security operation was a "complete success," the defense minister said, adding that three rebels were captured.
A counterinsurgency unit killed three members of the FARC's Teofilo Forero column in Puerto Rico, a rural town in the southern province of Caqueta, army commander Gen. Sergio Mantilla said.
"We got information that said the bandits wanted to affect the close of the elections and the troops neutralized them," Mantilla said.
Four other guerrillas died in operations targeting FARC units in the eastern province of Casanare, the northern province of Uraba and the southwestern province of Cauca, the general said.
"These results make clear the offensive footing that the armed forces are on around the country," Pinzon said.
About 330,000 police officers and military personnel were deployed across Colombia to guard polling places, with only eight violent incidents reported, Interior Minister German Vargas Lleras said.
Violent incidents were down 71 percent, compared to the local and regional elections held in 2007, President Juan Manuel Santos said.
The FARC, Colombia's oldest and largest leftist guerrilla group, was founded in 1964, has an estimated 8,000 fighters and operates across a large swath of this Andean nation.
The Colombian government has made fighting the FARC a top priority and has obtained billions in U.S. aid for counterinsurgency operations.
A succession of governments have battled Colombia's leftist insurgent groups since the mid-1960s.
In 1999, then-President Andres Pastrana allowed the creation of a Switzerland-sized "neutral" zone in the jungles of southern Colombia for peace talks with the FARC.
After several years of fitful and ultimately fruitless negotiations, Pastrana ordered the armed forces to retake the region in early 2002. But while the arrangement lasted, the FARC enjoyed free rein within the zone.
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.