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FARC rebels make off with ... dimes

BOGOTA, Colombia — Things haven’t been going so well for Colombia’s largest guerrilla group.

An army offensive and a wave of desertions have reduced the size of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, from 17,000 fighters to about 10,000. The FARC still pulls off deadly raids but more often than not, things go awry.

The latest fiasco was a pre-dawn attack Tuesday in the southern town of Caloto. The FARC’s main target was the government-run Agrarian Bank.

Around 1 a.m., the guerrillas detonated explosives around the bank. But once inside, they were unable to penetrate the safe that held about $200,000.

“They were too nervous and didn’t have enough time,” Police Col. Carlos Rodriguez told Bogota’s Caracol TV.

The rebels managed to open an auxiliary safe. But instead of stacks of cash, the lock box held 200- and 500-peso coins — the equivalent of dimes and quarters.

So, instead of making off with 200 Gs, which the rebels could have used to buy more guns and grenades, the rebels carried away heavy bags of coins containing 1 million pesos — worth only about $500.