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Colombia's president says ammunition has gone missing from 2 army bases

Colombia's President Gustavo Petro speaks during a press conference flanked by Colombia's Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez, left, and Colombia's Armed Forces Commander, Gen. Helder Giraldo, at the Narino Presidential Palace in Bogota, Colombia, on Tuesday.
Fernando Vergara
/
AP
Colombia's President Gustavo Petro speaks during a press conference flanked by Colombia's Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez, left, and Colombia's Armed Forces Commander, Gen. Helder Giraldo, at the Narino Presidential Palace in Bogota, Colombia, on Tuesday.

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombian President Gustavo Petro said Tuesday that hundreds of thousands of pieces of ammunition have gone missing from two military bases in the South American country.

In a brief statement, Petro said that an inspection this month by the army found that hundreds of thousands of bullets, thousands of grenades and 37 anti-tank missiles were stolen from a military base in the center of the country and another near the Caribbean coast.

Petro, the country's first left-wing president, said the ammunition might have ended up in the hands of Colombian rebel groups, or may have been sold illegally to criminal groups overseas, including Haitian gangs.

"The only way to explain these missing items is that there are networks made up of people within the armed forces who are involved in the illegal arms trade," Petro said.

Petro said that inspections of military bases would continue in order to "separate the armed forces from any type of criminal organization."

The investigation comes as Colombia resumes fighting in the southwest of the country against the FARC-EMC a rebel group that broke off from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia after it signed a peace deal with the government in 2016.

Petro has launched peace talks with some of the nation's remaining rebel groups since he was elected into office in 2022. But while in some areas of the country fighting between the government and rebel groups has decreased, critics of the Petro administration have said that these groups continue to extort and kidnap civilians. They say that cease-fires linked to the peace talks have helped rebels strengthen their positions and gain more influence over communities.

Copyright 2024 NPR

The Associated Press