October 27, 2001

Gunmen execute nine peasants in Colombia

                 BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Gunmen forced at least nine peasants from their
                 homes Saturday and executed them in front of their families in two separate
                 attacks, police said.

                 Local police blamed the killings on the rightist paramilitary United Self-Defense
                 Forces of Colombia, or AUC.

                 Armed men dressed in civilian clothing shot and killed five people early Saturday in
                 the town of Chiriguana, 340 miles (550 kilometers) north of the capital, Bogota.
                 Gunmen wearing military uniforms killed four others in the village of Fresno, 75
                 miles (120 kilometers) west of Bogota.

                 Authorities were investigating reports that the AUC on Friday killed nine more
                 people in Tolima province.

                 The AUC, which authorities say is responsible for most of the human rights abuses
                 committed in this South American country, is waging a murderous campaign
                 against civilians suspected of aiding leftist guerrillas. The 37-year civil conflict
                 typically kills about 3,500 people every year.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.