Colombian Army Battalion Executes Five Civilians

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 3 January 2008

A killing spree by the 'Codazzi' Battalion of the Colombian Army's 3rd Brigade has left five people dead in two villages in southern Colombia. The Battalion, along with other units including a British-trained High Mountain Battalion, have also been terrorising indigenous and peasant farmer communities in the same region.

The latest killings occurred on January 1st at 5.30am when troops of the 'Codazzi' Battalion detained 24-year-old Aleyser Ordonez, 19-year-old Jose Ermides Escue and 20-year-old Edwin Guerrero. All three were forcibly taken from the hamlet of Palmar near the town of Timba in Cauca department. The following day they were all found murdered.

Two weeks before, on December 18th, troops from the same Battalion dragged Pedro Antonio Infante and Yobanino Choco Ararat from their homes in the town of Timba. Both men were marched off towards the hamlet of Ventura where they were both extra-judicially executed.

These latest killings come shortly after human rights organisations have reported on a series of abuses by troops in and around the communities of Cominera and El Jagual in the municipality of Corinto, also in Cauca. According to reports the troops involved include the 'Codazzi' Battalion, the British-trained High Mountain Battalion, the 8th 'Batalla de Pichincha' Infantry Battalion and the 3rd Counter-Guerrilla Battalion all part of the 3rd Brigade of the Colombian Army.

The abuses began in early November when soldiers began stealing food, animals and money from the residents of the two communities. They also destroyed property, polluted drinking water supplies, accused people of supporting the guerrilla insurgency, attacked and beat people and established military posts in people's homes putting the owners lives at risk.

On one occasion, on November 21st, the troops forced their way into the home of peasant farmer Reinel Ramos Osorio where they broke furniture, stole clothes and cooking utensils and demanded money before painting paramilitary death squad graffiti on the walls of his house. The soldiers also stole some of the few animals that Mr Osorio and his family kept.

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