BOGOTA, Colombia — Security forces killed the No. 2 commander of Colombia's main guerrilla group in combat Saturday, dealing what the government called the biggest blow to the leftist force since its formation.
Raul Reyes, who became the public face of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia as the group's spokesman, died in fighting just across the border in neighboring Ecuador, Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos told a news conference that was carried live on Colombia's main television channels.
"This is the strongest blow dealt to the terrorist group to date," Santos said.
A total of 17 rebels and one soldier died in the operation, which involved Colombia's army, police and air force, the defense minister said. Among the rebel dead was a senior FARC member and songwriter known as "Julian Conrado."