Deadly Colombia rebel attack delays flights
BOGOTA - Agence France-Presse
A Colombian soldier mans a turret machinegun atop an EE-9 Cascavel armoured vehicle. AFP photoAn attack by Colombian leftist guerrillas has killed one police officer and damaged a radar installation which manages air traffic over much of the country's southwest, civil aviation officials said.
As a result, commercial flights from Colombia, Ecuador and Panama will be delayed, the officials warned Saturday.
The damaged radar is located atop a hill in the town of El Tambo, in Cauca province.
"National and international flights that have to pass over the southwest of Colombia will be affected by the damage to this radar," a spokesman for Aeronautica Civil, an agency that regulates the civil aviation industry, told AFP.
In a radio interview, agency director Santiago Castro explained that the damage will particularly affect flights between Colombia, Ecuador and Panama, including the busy route between Bogota and Cali.
The situation will result in delays, and the distance between aircraft already in the air will have to be increased, Castro explained.
"But overall, flights over the affected area will not stop," he added. According to the spokesman of Aeronautica Civil, who wished to remain unidentified, flights will be controlled through direct communications between plane crews and air traffic controllers.
Castro also told El Tiempo newspaper that it will take his agency "several months" to fully repair the damaged radar.
The radar and the El Tambo police station were attacked earlier Saturday by rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's largest guerrilla group, which used explosives to damage the installation. The FARC has an estimated 8,000 fighters across Colombia.