Rebel clashes in Colombia kill 20

The fighting between rival leftist guerrilla groups dates back to early 2006.

Updated: Jun 04, 2010, 11:23 AM IST

Bogota: Clashes between rival leftist guerrilla groups in Colombia have left 20 dead in a week, including 11 civilians, a local ombudsman said on Thursday.

Three children were among the latest victims, said Ombudsman Volmar Perez, who warned of a deteriorating situation in the northeast department of Arauca.

Perez said civilians have been increasingly become victims in the fighting between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), both of which are leftist groups.

The civilian death toll this year has risen to 79, he said.

The official said the situation was caused by "the confrontation between the guerrillas of the FARC and the ELN, which is causing civilian deaths, restrictions on mobility, anti-personnel mine accidents, forced displacement and destruction of property."

The fighting between the FARC and the ELN in the oil-rich region dates back to early 2006 and was reignited in the last week purportedly by an order of Germain Briceno, head of the FARC in the area, according to news reports.