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Convoy of leftist presidential candidate fired on by gunmen in Colombia; no one injured

Unidentified gunmen tried to halt a convoy carrying a leftist presidential candidate Sunday and exchanged gunfire with its security detail, but no one was injured, Colombian authorities said.

The incident involving candidate Aida Avella, 65, of the Union Patriotica occurred in the northeastern state of Arauca, where leftist FARC rebels have a strong presence.

Arauca's police chief, Col. Camilo Alvarez, said a gunman on a motorcycle tried to halt the convoy. He said Avella's vehicle was not hit by any of the estimated eight to 10 shots fired.

Avella said in a radio interview that she was not aware until afterward that the three-vehicle convoy had come under fire.

She recently returned to Colombia after 17 years in exile in Switzerland, having fled in 1996 after someone tried to kill her with a shoulder-fired rocket.

The Union Patriotica was formed in the 1980s as the political wing of the FARC in a peace process that collapsed in part because right-wing death squads were killing off its candidates. More than 3,000 party activists were systematically slaughtered.

The FARC is currently engaged in peace talks with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos.

Opinion polls say Avella has support of less than 10 percent of potential voters for the May election.

She recently told The Associated Press that if a peace agreement is reached, the FARC will decide whether it wants the Union Patriotica to represent it.

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