19 Dec 2010

Giant Christmas tree used to urge rebels to quit

10:42 am on 19 December 2010

The Colombian army says it has installed a giant Christmas tree in rebel territory, to encourage guerrilla fighters to demobilize.

Special forces infiltrated the remote Macarena mountain range to dress a 25 metre high tree with 2000 lights.

Movement sensors will make the tree light up when guerrillas approach.

The BBC reports the tree is near a supply route where a rebel leader, Mono Jojoy, was killed in a military operation in September.

The army says it will put up trees in nine other rebel zones to spread the message that Christmas is a good time to abandon armed struggle.

The Colombian government says more than 2000 guerrillas have demobilized this year under a scheme that gives them amnesty and help to return to civilian life.