Colombia Air Force A-29B Super Tucano Missing in Cauca Region
The Colombian air force is searching for one of its planes which is missing in south-western Cauca province. The Embraer A-29B Super Tucano plane with a pilot and co-pilot was supporting troops fighting the Farc guerrilla group.
On Wednesday President Juan Manuel Santos visited Cauca, where indigenous leaders are calling for the security forces and rebels to leave their area.
President Santos promised them more support, but said the military would not pull out of the region.
The Colombian air force was due to resume its search for the Super Tucano plane at first light.
Reports in El Tiempo newspaper suggested wreckage of the aircraft had been located.
The cause of the crash is not yet known but military officials quoted by the newspaper discounted the possibility that it had been shot down by rebel forces.
Tired of war
Cauca, a strategic area for the production and trafficking of cocaine, is a Farc rebel stronghold.
The indigenous leader of the town of Toribio, Marcos Yules, said the civilian population was tired of bearing the brunt of the fighting.
Ten people have been injured over the past days as Farc rebels shelled the town in south-western Cauca province in an attempt to take its police station.
On Monday, about 1,000 members of the Nasa, Guambiano and Paez tribes destroyed trenches built by the police to defend their police station.
They said the presence of the security forces was attracting rebel attacks.
An indigenous commission also marched to Farc camps in the mountains surrounding Toribio to demand the rebels leave the indigenous ancestral lands.
A year ago, the rebels drove a minibus packed with explosives into Toribio's police station, killing three people and injuring more than 100 injured.
"Our military and police are here to protect you," Mr Santos said during a tense visit on Wednesday to Toribio, where he was jeered by locals.
"They are here and they are going to stay."
All Colombians were tired of war, he said. "But in no way can we demilitarise even one centimetre of our land."
Before Mr Santos arrived, helicopter gunships shot at rebel positions in the mountains, a Reuters photographer reported.
Source: 12 July 2012 - BBC News
Photo Stories: 'FARC' shoots down military aircraft in Colombia
Leftist Colombian rebels claimed Thursday they had shot down a missing military plane by showing its alleged wreckage.The fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) displayed the debris of the plane and remains of one of the two Colombian Air Force crew members at a remote location in the southwestern Cauca mountains.The rebels told reporters and a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross that they had shot down the Brazilian-built Embraer Super Tucano, which specializes in anti-guerrilla operations.They later handed over the body and belongings of the victim to the Red Cross. Local emergency personnel later found the remains of the second crewman and delivered those to the Red Cross.The low-flying war plane, designed for close air support and air reconnaissance, vanished Wednesday while supporting soldiers battling members of the leftist guerrilla group, which has a strong presence in the region.President Juan Manuel Santos expressed doubt at the rebels' ability to shoot down the plane.
Security was tight for President Santos's visit to the region (Photo by REUTERS)
A man climbs next to the debris of an A-29B Super Tucano military aircraft that crashed in the mountains of Jambalo, in the province of Cauca July 12, 2012. The aircraft crashed on Wednesday during an operation against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), killing its two pilots. The cause of the accident is yet unknown, according to the authorities. (Photo by REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga)