Two killed as Colombia military fights rebels

A soldier was killed in fighting with leftist rebels in southwestern Colombia and one person was killed when a car bomb was detonated at a nearby checkpoint, officials said Tuesday.

The person killed in the car bombing near the village of El Palo, in Cauca province, has not been identified. He was not inside the vehicle, but he may have been the bomber, said General Jorge Jerez, a task force commander operating in the region.

A rebel believed to be a member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) drove the car up to a military checkpoint, Jerez told AFP by telephone.

"When he sees the presence of soldiers, the driver abandons the vehicle, which explodes outside of El Palo," Jerez said.

He said no soldiers were injured in the explosion.

A second car bomb detonated at the same time nearby destroyed an aqueduct, leaving residents in the municipality of Caloto without water, the military said.

The blasts were followed by clashes between government troops and FARC rebels in Caloto, which includes El Palo, he said. One soldier was killed and two were wounded in the fighting.

Caloto, which has some 30,000 inhabitants, is in the middle of a coca growing region that has often been the scene of fighting between rebels and government troops.

The FARC is currently in peace talks with the government in Havana, but it dropped its unilateral ceasefire on January 20.