The man who the Colombian government considers to be the mastermind behind the capture and killing of three Ecuadorian newspaper staff members was injured in a shootout with military members this weekend.
According to a Defense Ministry statement, Walter Arizala, known by the alias Guacho, was hit twice by rifle shots in the town of Tumaco in the southwest department of Nariño. While rumors swirl on social media that Guacho could be dead, President Iván Duque’s government has said it is rushing to confirm the location of the FARC dissident who turned his back on the 2016 peace talks.
The statement from Defense Minister Guillermo Botero described military officials as getting within 100 meters of Guacho when exchanging fire. After he was hit, however, Botero said that the rebel leader was helped by his fellow dissidents from the Oliver Sinisterra group.
“Military and police forces inform us that Guacho was hurt this morning and the military and police forces are now enclosing the area in which he was hurt so they can find him,” said Duque in a Saturday statement. “Guacho’s party is over. I met with the police and army higher commands and I gave very clear instruction on how we should move forward to dismantle that bloc that calls itself ‘Oliver Sinisterra.'”
Defense officials said they have communicated with hospitals and clinics in the area to make sure any sign of Guacho is reported to authorities.
On top of the brutal murder of two Ecuadorian journalists and their driver earlier this year, the government has also blamed the murder of a young couple from Ecuador on the Oliver Sinisterra Front leader.
Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno sent out a Tweet over the weekend confirming that he is closely monitoring the situation.
Hablé con el Presidente @IvanDuque. Alias Guacho fue herido con dos impactos de bala esta mañana en un operativo en territorio colombiano. Se ha sitiado de inmediato el lugar para dar con su paradero. Es una buena noticia para el país. No habrá impunidad.
— Lenín Moreno (@Lenin) September 15, 2018
“This is good news for our country,” he wrote. “There will be no impunity.”
A member of Colombia’s Navy was confirmed killed in the weekend shootout near Tumaco.