Some 10,000 FARC rebels have deserted since 2002 in Colombia

Other News Materials 16 July 2008 02:11 (UTC +04:00)

Some 10,000 members of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have deserted since 2002, when current Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was inaugurated, the government said Tuesday, dpa reported.

Frank Pearl, director of the government programme for the reinsertion of former rebels into civil society, said the figures show the rebels "are very frustrated and bored with the life they lead."

FARC have suffered severe blows this year, including the loss of their most high-profile hostages - former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three US contractors - and the deaths of founder and boss Manuel Marulanda, number two Raul Reyes and a third member of the group's seven-member leadership.

Pearl said 1,600 FARC rebels have demobilized so far this year.

He noted that the total number of members of illegal organizations demobilized since 2002 in Colombia is as high as 48,000, when members of extreme-right paramilitaries and other illegal organizations are included. The paramilitaries reached a deal with the government in 2006.

Pearl said that, according to Colombian military forces, FARC now have a total of 8,000 rebels.