November 11, 2001

Army: Paramilitary gunmen kill 12 in central Colombia

                 BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Paramilitary gunmen accused 12 villagers in
                 central Colombia of being leftist guerrillas and shot them dead in front of
                 their homes, the army said Sunday.

                 The outlaw pararmilitary group, which is waging a brutal war against guerrillas and
                 those suspected of helping them, killed the men shortly before midnight Saturday in
                 El Choco, 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Bogota, said Capt. Luis Hernandez,
                 an army spokesman.

                 The gunmen, who arrived with a list in hand, shot the victims in the head after
                 accusing them of being members of the National Liberation Army, or ELN.

                 The nation's 37-year civil war kills some 3,500 people every year, mostly civilians.

                 Fighting since Saturday between government troops and the leftist Revolutionary
                 Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, has killed two soldiers and six rebels,
                 Hernandez said.

                 Combat was still raging Sunday in southern Putumayo province, where FARC
                 fighters attacked soldiers from a counternarcotics battalion trained and equipped
                 through a dlrs. 1.3 billion drug-fighting package from Washington.

                 The soldiers were securing the zone for drug fumigations early Sunday when
                 guerrillas attacked them. One rebel was killed in the fighting, said Hernandez.

                 Separately, presumed ELN fighters abducted an Italian man from a roadside in
                 Colombia while liberating another, Italy's ambassador said Sunday.

                 Gunmen abducted Gianluigi Ravotti from a road outside Guadalupe in Antioquia on
                 Saturday morning, Ambassador Felice Scauso told The Associated Press. The
                 region is 280 kilometers (173 miles) northwest of the capital, Bogota.

                 Colombian police told Scauso that the ELN was holding the 47-year-old man -- a
                 turbine engineer in Colombia with the Italian company Ansaldo Energy.

                 On the same day Ravotti was abducted, the ELN released Gaetano Izzia to the Red
                 Cross in the mountains of Antioquia, said Scauso.

                 Guerrillas kidnapped Izzia, 26, last September along with two other Italians who
                 remain in captivity. Izzia was being examined by doctors and was expected to
                 return to Italy early this week.

                 More than 2,000 people, including 30 foreigners, were kidnapped in the first nine
                 months of this year. Armed groups seize hostages for political gain and ransom.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.