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6

Colombia rebels declare 10-day oil pipeline truce

Colombian rebels will declare a 10-day ``truce,'' halting bombings ...

Colombian rebels will declare a 10-day ``truce,'' halting bombings of the Occidental Petroleum-operated Cano Limon oil pipeline, which has hardly functioned this year, local radio reported on Friday.
A man identifying himself as a commander of the Cuban-inspired ELN, or National Liberation Army, called a radio station in the eastern jungle province of Arauca and said that attacks would halt for 10 days as of May 14 in ``a gesture of solidarity'' with Cano Limon workers.

The 485-mile (780-km) pipeline is a favorite target for the rebels, who last month briefly kidnapped 100 Occidental contractors and fired mortars at a 5,000-barrel oil storage tank.

Their attacks have left the Cano Limon pipeline virtually inoperational since Feb. 17, slashing output to just 2 percent of its capacity in April. Local government depends on oil tax revenues -- most coming from state oil firm Ecopetrol -- to fund basic health and education services.

``We are going to make a gesture of solidarity with Cano Limon workers, with their education and those who benefit from the charity of Ecopetrol. We are going to suspend bomb attacks on the pipeline for 10 days from Monday the 14th,'' said the man who identified himself as ``Comandante Pablo''.

Officials at Occidental met the radio interview with skepticism, saying they were not sure whether the announcement would truly lead to a cease fire. Colombia's 37-year-old war has crippled industry and claimed 40,000 mainly civilian lives in the past decade.

``You can believe the ELN or you can not believe the ELN,'' said an Occidental spokesman in the capital Bogota. ``At this point we cannot say anything. We have no official comment.''

biz.yahoo.com

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05/14/2001