January 19, 2001

Six dead in paramilitary massacre in Colombia

                  BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Suspected right-wing paramilitary gunmen
                  continued a wave of massacres Friday, killing six people in a northern Colombian
                  town. U.N. human rights monitors said Colombia's violence has reached new
                  and more "alarming" heights.

                  Friday's killings, the third paramilitary massacre this week, occurred in
                  northwestern Antioquia State. Police had no more details on the killings in Santa
                  Barbara, 130 miles from the capital, Bogota.

                  In a statement late Thursday, U.N. human rights monitors said as many as 170 unarmed people
                  had died in 26 massacres this month, proof of an "alarming degradation" in Colombia's 36-year

                  The government of President Andres Pastrana has failed to respond to early warnings in many of the
                  attacks, local representatives of the Geneva-based U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said.
                  The government had no immediate response.

                  In one of the deadliest massacres in months, paramilitary gunmen used machetes Wednesday
                  to kill 25 villagers in northern Sucre State after accusing them of being guerrilla collaborators.
                  The nationwide United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, took credit for the massacre.

                  On Monday, just as defense officials pledged new measures to combat paramilitary violence, AUC
                  fighters forced 10 men off a bus in western Colombia and executed them on the spot.

                  Bogota's leading newspaper, El Tiempo, said government pledges over the years had produced
                  few results in reigning in the paramilitary forces, who allegedly operate with tacit and sometimes
                  direct support from elements within the U.S.-supported Colombian military.

                  U.N. monitors condemned the Sucre massacre and the assassination Thursday
                  of the mayor of Jurado, a town near the Panamanian border, by suspected
                  guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

                  The FARC pulled away from peace talks with Pastrana in November demanding
                  stronger government action against the AUC, its arch rival.

                  Stronger curbs on paramilitary violence and army-paramilitary collusion is also a
                  condition for Colombia to continue to receive U.S. military aid and training under
                  a $1.3 billion anti-narcotics aid package.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.