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Six dead after suspected Colombian rebels burn bus

MYT 5:01:51 AM

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Six people, including two children, were killed when suspected Colombian FARC guerrillas stopped and set fire to bus traveling in the south of the country, a local state governor said on Friday.

The FARC has been battered by President Alvaro Uribe's U.S.-backed military campaign, but guerrillas are still active in areas where state presence is weak. Rebels often stop and burn buses and trucks as a form of intimidation.

Police said there were about 20 passengers on the bus.

"A group, apparently from the FARC, stopped a bus and set fire to it. The details and circumstances of why they burned it with people inside, we still do not know," Narino State Governor Antonio Navarro told reporters.

"Six burned bodies were found, four adults and two children," he said.

Colombia's four-decade-old conflict has eased since Uribe came to office in 2002 and sent troops to retake areas once under control of illegal armed groups. The FARC has been weakened by the loss of top commanders and by desertions, but is still fighting in remote, rural regions.

One of the bus passengers who survived the attack, Maria Garcia, told local media guerrillas opened fire on the vehicle, which later burst into flames. She did not say how the fire started.

"Gunfire started and we got down," she said. "I grabbed my two kids and ran out and the bus began to burn."

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta, writing by Patrick Markey in Bogota, Editing by Jackie Frank)

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