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Colombia believes it killed second leader of FARC rebels in a week
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    BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombian security forces carrying out an arrest warrant Friday for a rebel leader killed a man in a shootout and were trying to confirm his identity, an official in the chief prosecutor’s office said Friday.
    The raid targeted Ivan Rios, a member of the FARC guerrillas’ ruling junta. If he is confirmed dead, he would be the second member of the ruling secretariat of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to be killed in a week.
    That would be a huge blow to Latin America’s oldest and strongest insurgency, shaken by the death Saturday of spokesman Raul Reyes. He was killed in a cross-border raid in Ecuador that has set off an international diplomatic crisis.
    The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was awaiting an official announcement, said Friday’s raid took place in a mountainous area of the western Colombian province of Caldas.
    The State Department had a standing bounty of $5 million for Rios, whose real name is Jose Juvenal Velandia. He has been charged with drug smuggling by the United States, and is on a U.S. Treasury Department list of terrorists and drug traffickers.
    In a 1999 interview with The Associated Press, Rios said he joined the insurgency as a student in Colombia’s second city of Medellin to avoid being killed by right-wing death squads that had attacked other student activists.
    Thought to be in his 40s, he became known across Colombia as one of the rebels’ main negotiators in failed peace talks that ended in 2002.
    Rios commanded the FARC’s central bloc, which operates throughout Colombia’s northwestern coffee region. Security forces say he frequently accompanied the FARC’s senior leader, Manuel ‘‘Sureshot’’ Marulanda, in recent years.
    Rios ‘‘was the youngest member of the secretariat. He was very important to the rebels,’’ said Alfredo Rangel of the Bogota-based think tank Security and Democracy. ‘‘This shows the army is capable of taking down the rebels’ most important pillars and that any of the leaders can fall at any time.’’

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