Himelda Galindo de Cuéllar mourns the loss of her husband, Colombia's Caquetá Governor Luis Cuéllar, at a religious ceremony in Florencia December 23, 2009.

© 2009 Reuters

(Washington, DC) - The killing of a state governor points up the cruel tactics of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas, who target and often kill civilians in Colombia's internal armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said today. 

On December 21, 2009, the FARC is believed to have abducted Luis Francisco Cuéllar, the governor of the southern state of Caquetá.  His body, with his throat slit, was found on the afternoon of December 22 near the state capital, Florencia.

"With this savage crime, the FARC is once again showing its ruthlessness and complete disregard for the laws of war and the well-being of civilians," said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.  "The FARC seems to care nothing for the pain and suffering it causes to its victims and their families."

Despite experiencing significant military setbacks in recent years, the FARC operates in many regions throughout the country.  The group commits horrific abuses, including massacres, targeted killings, recruitment of child combatants, and widespread use of antipersonnel landmines.  In February, the FARC killed 17 members of the Awa indigenous community, in the southern state of Nariño.  The FARC also has a long history of abducting civilians and holding them, often for years on end and under miserable conditions, for ransom and political gain.