December 8, 1998

Death squad executes at least 11 people in Colombia


                  BOGOTA, Colombia (CNN) -- Heavily armed men, suspected of
                  belonging to a right-wing paramilitary group, shot dead at least 11 people in
                  a pre-dawn attack on a town in northern Colombia, police said Tuesday.

                  Witnesses said men dressed in military-style uniforms arrived in the town of
                  Villanueva, near Colombia's border with Venezuela, at about 4 a.m., carrying
                  lists of suspected leftist guerrilla collaborators. The men dragged their victims
                  into the street and shot them with pistols and automatic rifles, police said.

                  A hospital worker said two boys, between 11 and 15 years old, were among
                  the dead.

                  The killings were the second massacre in Colombia in less than a week. Five
                  peasants were killed Thursday night when men in black uniforms stormed into
                  another north Colombian village.

                  Top paramilitary leaders pledged last week they would observe a three-week
                  Christmas and New Year cease-fire beginning December 20.

                  Human rights activists say the right-wing paramilitary groups are given free
                  rein by Colombia's armed forces to kill leftists and suspected rebel

                  They are accused of committing most of the human rights violations in a
                  long-running internal conflict, which has claimed 35,000 lives in the last

                       The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.