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At least six Colombian soldiers have been killed in fierce fighting with Marxist guerrillas in a rugged mountain region just south of Bogota, an army spokeswoman said Sunday.

The clashes, which began late Friday, were still raging Sunday as about 600 elite counterinsurgency troops from the army's No. 1 Mobile Brigade hunted a column of up to 1,500 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrillas, the spokeswoman said.

She was unable to detail exact rebel casualties in the battle near San Juan de Sumapaz, a village at the heart of a strategic region of deep gorges and towering peaks.

She said the army had succeeded in dismantling a guerrilla camp and seized weapons and explosives but added that bad weather and thick fog prevented flying-in reinforcements by helicopter.

The area, a long-standing rebel stronghold known as Sumapaz, stretches down into the eastern side of the Andes Mountains from the working-class shantytowns on the southern edge of Bogota.

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