March 12, 2000
Right-wing groups kill 11 in Colombia's turbulent north

                   BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Right-wing paramilitary groups killed 11 men
                   suspected of being leftist sympathizers, authorities said Sunday, the latest
                   bloodshed in Colombia's north, where dozens have been massacred in
                   recent weeks.

                   About 50 gunmen arrived Friday night at a series of farms outside San Juan
                   Nepomuceno and Maria La Baja in Bolivar state and shot to death the men,
                   all aged 25 to 35, said Marine Col. Rodrigo Quinonez.

                   Quinonez's units arrived on the scene Saturday and found the local population
                   terrorized, with 200 peasants already having fled to Maria La Baja.

                   He said a paramilitary officer in a camouflage uniform called the victims by
                   name, accusing them of being members of the leftist rebel National Liberation
                   Army, or ELN.

                   Bolivar state and the Marines were offering a $10,000 reward for information
                   leading to the capture of the attackers, Quinonez said.

                   The region is one of Colombia's most turbulent. Paramilitary units vie for
                   control of its mineral riches -- including the country's most extensive gold
                   deposits -- as well as the local cocaine business.

                   Since mid-February, more than 60 people have been killed by paramilitary
                   units who believed they were sympathetic with the ELN.

                   In one of the cruelest actions, some 200 paramilitaries massacred at least 36
                   people with guns and machetes on February 16 in the village of El Salado and
                   another 17 in nearby Ovejas, according to federal prosecutors. The most
                   recent killings occurred just 30 miles away.

                    Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.