BOGOTA, June 20 (Reuters) – Colombian troops killed six Marxist guerrillas on Sunday in the center of the Andean nation while millions of voters went to the polls to elect President Alvaro Uribe’s successor, the army said.
Violence has declined since Uribe launched a U.S.-backed military offensive against leftist rebels in 2002, but fighting and bombings remain common in Latin America’s No. 4 oil producer, which is struggling to shake off a four-decade rebellion.
An army spokesman said soldiers clashed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Meta province, east of the capital Bogota, killing six rebels.
Uribe steps down in August after two terms marked by a hard-line stance against guerrillas, drug barons and paramilitaries. Improved security has drawn increasing foreign investment in the country’s oil and mining sectors.
Former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos and independent Antanas Mockus faced off on Sunday to take over from the popular incumbent in an election run-off with Santos holding a commanding lead in opinion polls. [ID:nN20126923] (Reporting by Monica Garcia and Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Jack Kimball, Editing by Sandra Maler)