Newsbrief: More Americans Dead in Colombia 3/28/03

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While the US mass media has been busy with play-by-play coverage of the US invasion of Iraq, the war in Colombia continues apace. On Monday, a second plane carrying US civilian mercenaries went down in rebel territory in Caqueta province, the same area where FARC rebels shot down a US plane on February 13. The three unidentified US citizens on board Monday's downed flight were killed, according to El Tiempo. It is unclear at press time whether the plane crashed or was shot down.

The dead civilian mercenaries were part of a massive search effort underway for the past five weeks to find the three US citizens captured by the FARC when their spy plane was shot down in the February 13 incident. Two other members of that doomed flight, a US civilian mercenary and a Colombian army sergeant, were killed either attempting to escape or resisting arrest by FARC guerrillas.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that although the State Department refused to provide any details on the flight's passengers, they were US citizens who were "contractors for the US government." US mercenary outfits, such as Dyncorp and California Microwave systems (employer of those killed or captured in the February 13 incident), employ hundreds of people to undertake tasks such as spraying coca fields with herbicides and gathering intelligence on leftist rebels. The FARC has declared such civilians engaged in war support activities as legitimate targets of war.

Citing anonymous sources in the Colombian military, El Tiempo reported that the downed plane was participating in military operations "directly coordinated by US military personnel at the Larandia airbase." The Larandia base, in the jungles of Caqueta, is headquarters for the massive US and Colombian effort to recover the three mercenaries held as POWs by the FARC.

The FARC has said it will release the detained mercenaries, as well as others it holds, in exchange for the freedom of rebels held by the Colombian government.

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Issue #280, 3/28/03 The Week Online Needs Your Help | Editorial: I Smuggled Coca Soap into the United States | Road to Vienna: British Government Chides International Narcotics Control Board on Cannabis Rescheduling Critique | Will Canada Marijuana Decriminalization Be Collateral Damage in Iraq War? | Maryland Legislature Rebuffs Drug Czar, Passes Medical Marijuana Bill, Awaits Governor's Signature | DRCNet Interview: Ed Forchion, the New Jersey Weedman | Newsbrief: DEA Issues Final Hemp Rule, Would Ban Hemp Food Products in Weeks, Hempsters Fight Back | Newsbrief: Bill to Allow Syringe Purchases Moving in Illinois Legislature | Newsbrief: Bill to Restrict Needle Exchanges Gets Push in Rhode Island | Newsbrief: Colombia to Get $100 Million Bounty for Supporting Iraq War | Newsbrief: More Americans Dead in Colombia | Newsbrief: Lawsuit Charges Chicago Cops with Pattern of Illegal Stops, Searches of Minorities | Newsbrief: Bush to Nominate Woman Prosecutor to Head DEA | Newsbrief: Silence on Pusherstrasse -- Christiania Drug Sellers Strike for Future of "Free City" | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Jobs at WOLA | The Reformer's Calendar

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