BOGOTA, Colombia – Colombia's main rebel group asked followers to mount an assassination attempt against President Bush (search) during his visit to Colombia last week, Defense Minister Jorge Uribe said. There was no evidence Saturday that rebels even tried to organize such an attack.
Uribe told reporters late Friday that informants said the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (search), known as the FARC, told followers to attack Bush during his four-hour visit in the seaside city of Cartagena last Monday, where he met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
The defense minister, who is no relation to the president, said security forces were on full alert during the visit. About 15,000 Colombian troops and police, along with U.S. troops and Secret Service (search) agents provided security. There was no indication Bush's life was ever in danger.
Uribe did not say where the informants had heard about the purported order to attack Bush.
The Secret Service did not comment on security details, as is its policy.
"We have full confidence in the fine work of the Secret Service and their work with security officials on the ground when the President travels," White House spokesman Jim Morrell said Saturday.
The FARC has declared U.S. troops in Colombia military targets. The troops are training local forces and providing logistics and planning assistance for military operations against the rebels.
However, the rebels never publicly declared Bush a target during his first-ever visit as president to Colombia. Bush visited Colombia after attending a summit in Chile.