Colombian Rebels Confirm Leader's Death

Marulanda, 78, died of a heart attack 'in arms of his companion'
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted May 25, 2008 6:23 PM CDT
Timoleon Jimenez, a senior commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) reads a statement as he announces the death of FARC leader Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda.    (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A top Colombian rebel confirmed the death of FARC chief Manuel Marulanda in a TV interview today. Marulanda died of a heart attack 2 months ago, at age 78, "in the arms of his companion," he said. With "Sureshot" gone, new rebel leader Alfonso Cano may struggle to keep the Marxist group going, the AP reports.

The rebels have been on a bad streak: A female leader has defected, Colombian troops recently killed 2 of the group's ruling Secretariat, and Cano is said to be cornered in the southwest jungle. The group has also shrunk from 15,000 to 9,000 members, and is known more for drug-smuggling than for its Marxist, anti-government roots.