Saturday, June 21, 2003

Paramilitary leader caught, Colombian army says

                  Bolmar Sepulveda accused in 450 killings

                  BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- The Colombian army said Saturday that it captured a paramilitary commander who is accused of killing 450
                  people -- bringing to a close a six-month manhunt.

                  Soldiers captured Bolmar Sepulveda at a military checkpoint Friday in Barrancabermeja, 165 miles [264 kilometers] north of the capital, Bogota,
                  according to an army statement.

                  Sepulveda commanded a group of 160 fighters for the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, the statement said.

                  The paramilitary army has been blamed for some of the bloodiest massacres in Colombia's history, and recently began wresting control of parts of
                  Barrancabermeja from leftist rebels.

                  The rebels are fighting paramilitary forces and the government in a 39-year conflict that kills an estimated 3,500 people annually, most of them civilians.