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Colombian official: Rebels planned to kill Bush

Guerrilla Activities
George W. Bush

(CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush was targeted for assassination by Marxist rebels this week when he visited the city of Cartagena, a Colombian official said Saturday.

"We found out through informers and various sources that groups within the [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] had been instructed from its leadership to make an assassination attempt on President Bush," Colombian Defense Secretary Jorge Alberto Uribe told Caracol TV, a Bogota-based satellite network.

Uribe said no evidence of the alleged plot by the group -- Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia or FARC -- has been recovered.

The U.S. Secret Service declined to comment on the alleged plot.

"The Secret Service does not comment or release information regarding our protective intelligence and protective methods," said spokesman Jonathan Cherry. "Secret Service does not discuss any alleged threats to our protectees."

Security was heavy during Bush's visit, and no incidents occurred.

"We have full confidence in the fine work of the Secret Service and their work with security officials on the ground," in Colombia and elsewhere, White House spokesman Jim Morrell said.

FARC has frequently been accused of targeting visiting international leaders for assassination.

"The administration of George W. Bush is everything that Marxist rebels hate in a U.S. government," journalist Toby Muse in Bogota, Colombia, told CNN.

"The plots against the president's life don't seem to have advanced very far," Muse said.

The president stopped briefly in Colombia on November 22 on his way back to Washington after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Santiago, Chile. (Full story)

Established in 1964 as the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party, FARC is Colombia's oldest, largest, most capable and best-equipped Marxist rebel group, according to the U.S. Department of State. The group, which has about 13,500 members, conducts bombings, murders, kidnappings and hijackings, the State Department said.

The State Department has classified FARC as a terrorist group.

Colombia has seen decades of civil warfare, involving government troops, leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitary groups.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this report.

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