No Colombians have been captured or killed, but rebels this week said they have received accounts of their deadly marksmanship from pro-Gadhafi prisoners and from eyewitnesses in the besieged city Misurata, the largest city in western Libya still under partial rebel control.
Rebel sources said the Colombians are part of a wider force of snipers firing from vantage points atop buildings in Misurata.
“They are shooting to kill,” said Khalid, a doctor in Misurata who gave only his first name. He said most of the injured have head, chest and neck wounds.
The account of the female warriors from Colombia came this week as rebels identified a host of foreigners fighting for the Gadhafi regime or supplying the dictator with valuable material. Mercenaries are paid up to $1,000 a day, according to some reports.
The rebels said they have captured Algerian mercenaries and claim that the authoritarian government of Belarus has sent more than 100 military advisers to help Col. Gadhafi. They said the regime also has received aid from supporters in Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Ukraine.
Algerian and Belarusian officials have denied the rebels’ allegations. Officials with other governments cited by the rebels could not be reached for comment.
A U.S. official, meanwhile, said he doubts that Col. Gadhafi is receiving significant foreign help.
“Gadhafi is basically on his own. He isn’t receiving much help - financial, military or otherwise - from his neighbors, even those deemed his friends,” the U.S. official said on the condition of anonymity.
However, two Western officials who spoke on background said the mercenaries are likely fighting because of their own individual reasons and not at the behest of another country.
The presence of the South American mercenaries suggests that Col. Gadhafi could be recruiting fighters from the communist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by their Spanish initials, FARC.
FARC has long-standing ties to the Gadhafi regime, according to information found on the computers of Raul Reyes, a rebel commander killed by Colombian soldiers in 2008. One computer included a Sept. 4, 2000, letter to Col. Gadhafi, asking for a loan of $100 million to buy weapons.
FARC also has highly trained female fighters capable of handling modern firearms, said Jaime Daremblum, a former Costa Rican ambassador to the United States who is director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Washington-based Hudson Institute.View Entire Story
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Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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