The Colombian president says the bomb attack by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group that targeted an oil pipeline earlier this month has caused the worst environmental disaster ever in the country.
Juan Manuel Santos slammed the FARC rebels for causing the oil spill after they launched a bomb attack on a section of the oil pipeline in the country’s Narino Department, saying the new act of violence is likely to generate a widespread condemnation from Colombians.
Santos made the comments to reporters during a trip to the site of the attack in the southwestern port city of Tumaco on Friday. He was there to survey the damage from the June 22 bombing.
The oil spill that followed the attack led the Colombian president to declare a state of emergency in Tumaco. The state of emergency is still in effect and is expected to be lifted in the coming weeks.
Authorities said that some 10,000 barrels of oil have spilled into the Mira River, a main water source for hundreds of thousands of Colombians, due to the attack. The incident has left some 150,000 people without drinking water.
It was the latest in a string of violent actions against the government since the rebels suspended, in May, a unilateral cease-fire that was aimed at giving space to peace talks with the government.
In a similar move on June 18, suspected FARC rebels set off a bomb targeting the second-largest oil pipeline in the Department of Norte de Santander in northern Colombia.
The FARC rebel group called off the five-month-old unilateral ceasefire in response to an airstrike by the government forces, which killed 26 of its members.
FARC has been fighting the government since 1964. The rebel organization is thought to have around 8,000 fighters operating across a large swathe of the eastern jungles of the Andean country.
The fighting has led to the death of over 200,000 people, while more than five million people have been uprooted.