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US drug agent killed in Colombia

Armed police and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents in Boston, Massachusetts, April 15, 2013. An agent of the US Drug Enforcement Administration was stabbed to death Friday in Bogota while fighting off an apparent kidnapping attempt, Colombian police and the US embassy said.AFP/File

A US Drug Enforcement Administration agent was stabbed to death in Bogota while fighting off an apparent robbery attempt, Colombian police and US officials said.

Agent James "Terry" Watson was a 13-year veteran of the DEA who had served on dangerous counter-narcotics missions in Afghanistan earlier in his career, the DEA said in a statement.

Colombian police and US officials said he had dined Thursday night in an upscale area of the Colombian capital, Bogota, where he watched the NBA basketball finals on TV with friends from the embassy.

Early Friday morning he caught a taxi in which he was apparently abducted. Watson put up a fight, but was stabbed five times then dumped out of the car. He died later in a hospital, Colombian police chief Jose Roberto Leon said.

"These are the worst days for anyone in law enforcement and we grieve Terry's loss," DEA administrator Michele Leonhart said in a statement.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said "this crime will not go unpunished."

Acting State Department deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell said US embassy security officials were working closely with Colombian authorities to investigate, but stressed it appeared to have been a robbery.

"This is really a profound tragedy for our embassy community and indeed for our government. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of our fallen colleague," Ventrell told reporters.

The US ambassador in Colombia, Michael McKinley, also emphasized that the incident appeared to be an "isolated criminal act," saying although "crime in Bogota and other Colombian cities has declined in recent years, that doesn't mean it doesn't still exist."

Colombian authorities have offered a reward equivalent to $26,000 for information leading to the identification of whoever was responsible for the agent's death.

Watson was assigned to the DEA office in the Colombian city of Cartagena and was in Bogota on a temporary assignment, the DEA said. Ambassador McKinley said he had recently married a Colombian woman.

Before working for the DEA, he had served with the US Marshals Service and the army.