ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — Suspected members of a little-known rebel group killed eight soldiers in an attack in northern Paraguay on Saturday, just days after guerrillas and officials in Colombia reached a peace deal to end the longest-running insurgency in Latin America.
Paraguayan Interior Minister Francisco De Vargas reported the first five deaths from the attack in Arroyito, a town about 305 miles (490 kilometers) from Asuncion. Dr. Bernardo Jacquet, a physician at Hospital Concepcion, located some 55 miles (90 kilometers) from where the attack occurred, later said the death toll had risen to eight.
Authorities suspect the attack was carried out by a little-known Paraguayan guerrilla group called the Paraguayan People’s Army.
Federico Delfino, the country’s prosecutor for anti-kidnapping efforts, said the attackers got away with eight M4 carbines, bulletproof vests and the victims’ personal belongings.
President Horacio Cartes vowed to “personally lead the fight against these terrorists.”
The spike in rebel violence in Paraguay came as Colombia’s government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia on Wednesday announced the finalization of a peace agreement after more than four years of grueling negotiations. A cease-fire in the Colombian conflict that lasted more than a half-century will take effect at midnight next Monday.
The Paraguayan government considers members of the Paraguayan People’s Army to be terrorists under an anti-terrorism law.
The group was blamed last year in the killing of a German couple. Their bodies were found after the rebels abducted the pair from their cattle farm and demanded that the owner of a farm pay $300,000 and give food to the poor.