QUITO, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Ecuador will strengthen its armed forces as part of a five-year plan calling for some 109 million U.S. dollars in investment, Ecuadorian Defense Minister Oswaldo Jarrin said on Thursday.
The government wants to reinforce the country's northern border with Colombia, Jarrin told reporters.
The heavily forested border zone is rife with drug and weapons trafficking and rebel activity. Recent attacks against civilians and the police, including a car bomb outside a police station, have killed nine people and injured 40 others.
A splinter group of the now disbanded Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which goes by the name Oliver Sinisterra Front, is believed to be operating along the border region. It has so far kidnapped and murdered five Ecuadorians in the past several months.
The recent rise in violence, Jarrin said, calls for additional investment in reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence services.
Other areas to be funded include munitions and soldiers' equipment. The military also plans to purchase six helicopters and 11 riverboats.
The funding will come from the military's Annual Investment Program, he added.