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Colombia Rebel Reported Dead

Reuters

The legendary leader of Colombia’s second-largest rebel group--a Spanish-born former Roman Catholic priest--has died, the group said Monday.

Manuel Perez, 54, died Feb. 14 of chronic hepatitis in Santander province in the country’s northeast, according to the communique transmitted by the National Liberation Army, or ELN, on its clandestine Radio Patria Libre and later rebroadcast on commercial radio stations.

Nicolas Rodriguez, the ELN’s top military strategist, will now take over as the group’s supreme commander.

Perez’s death came in the same month the ELN and government representatives signed a secret deal in Madrid to hold tentative peace talks. The ELN pulled out of the deal last week, accusing the government of “political opportunism,” after details of the accord were leaked to the press.

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