Thirty reported killed by paramilitaries in Colombia
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- As authorities tried to reach the mountain
hamlets where rightist paramilitary fighters reportedly massacred 30 people,
rival guerrillas on Sunday raided a separate village and killed at least one
resident, the army said.
Arriving in southwestern Cauca province, the region where the reported
paramilitary massacre took place, federal human rights ombudsman
Eduardo Cifuentes said he believed "about 30" villagers had been killed in attacks.
Reports of the killings by the rightist United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia,
AUC, first surfaced Friday, but authorities were still trying Sunday to reach the
remote, mountainous villages.
Hundreds have fled the region on the backs of mules and horses seeking
the town of Timba, where they have told their stories to officials.
Servio Tulio Diaz, spokesman for the Cauca State governor's office, said
of the victims were reportedly shot after the paramilitaries accused them of being
leftist rebel sympathizers.
"There is no doubt that there was a large massacre committed by the paramilitaries,"
Diaz. "What we don't know is how many people were killed."
So far, authorities have confirmed that at least six villagers were executed in the attacks.
Meanwhile Sunday, fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia,
or FARC, attacked the Antioquia State village of Caucana early Sunday morning
following skirmishes with a right-wing paramilitary group, army Col. Jairo Ovalle
told the Associated Press. He said the rebels accused the residents of supporting
Ovalle said earlier reports from the local mayor that as many as 50 people
been killed in the assault were unfounded. Although the death toll was unknown
because of ongoing battles between soldiers and guerrillas, only one villager was
The violence in the region in Antioquia state, 223 miles from the capital,
began early Sunday when the rebels clashed with paramilitary gunmen.
Following the skirmishes, the rebels attacked the village of 5,000 people
torched homes. Soldiers arrived by helicopter several hours later and had
regained control by late afternoon, Ovalle said.
Paramilitaries and the nation's two main guerrilla groups, the Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the National Liberation Army, or
ELN, are all active in the violent province.
The upsurge in violence comes as peace efforts between President Andres
Pastrana's government and both guerrilla groups appear to be foundering.
However, the ELN announced on Saturday that it will stop erecting roadblocks
along three main highways as a peace gesture.
Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.