So maybe there really is a such thing as a war on drugs???
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Guerrillas killed seven Colombian police officers Monday as they guarded government-hired work crews in a high-profile mission to rid the Sierra Macarena National Park of coca, the base ingredient of cocaine.
At least seven more police officers and a worker were injured during the surprise ambush, the national police said.
The mission involving 3,000 armed troops and some 600 peasants is the biggest manual eradication drive in Colombia's history.
It was announced by President Alvaro Uribe after the December killing of 29 soldiers near the pristine park, 170 kilometers (105 miles) south of Bogota.
The park has long been a major stronghold and coca-growing area for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the country's largest guerrilla organization. The leftist rebels have been trying to overthrow the government for more than 40 years and in recent years have taken up drug trafficking to finance their struggle.
President Uribe, from the southern province of Putumayo, lamented the police officers' deaths and vowed to send another battalion of soldiers to the Macarena Park, so that eradication teams could safely "eliminate every last coca plant in the national park."
U.S.-owned fumigation planes spray weed killer over tens of thousands of hectares (acres) of Colombian coca fields each year, but bypass the country's 36 nature parks because of environmental concerns, a point not overlooked by coca farmers, who have planted in at least 11 of the parks.
Separately, President Uribe, after a meeting with his top military advisers in Putumayo, reiterated his apology to Ecuador for an incident January 28 when military planes and helicopters illegally violated the country's airspace while chasing down a FARC column.
Uribe continued to say, however, that the breach of Ecuador's sovereignty was a mistake and not premeditated.
The apology and visit to the border region was an attempt by Uribe to end more than a week of tense diplomatic exchanges between the two normally friendly countries.
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