A US spy plane carrying four Americans and a Colombian crashed Thursday in southern Colombia. Two bodies were spotted at the site, Colombian officials told reporters, but the three survivor might have been captured by leftist rebels.
The US plane crashed in an area considered to be a stronghold of the FARC rebel army after loosing radio contact with the US military base at Tres Esquinas around 9.00 AM.
US officials scrambled rescue teams to the sweltering plains of the region after the crash, but an unconfirmed report from the Colombian military said rebels had captured the survivors and announced, “We have them! We have them!” in an intercepted radio transmission.
If the survivors were indeed captured, it would be the first time that US soldiers are captured alive by Colombia’s leftist guerrillas.
A similar US spy plane crashed in the mountains of Nariño department in July 1999 while conducting an intelligence operation against FARC guerrillas. Five US Army personnel and two Colombians were killed on that occasion.
Since 1997 a total of twelve US citizens–soldiers, mercenaries and special agents–have been killed while fighting in Colombia’s civil war on behalf of the governments of Bogota and Washington.
Maria Engqvist lives in Stockholm. She writes on Colombia for AnnCol.