British-Trained High Mountain Battalion Uses Civilians as Human Shields

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 17 January 2008

Human rights groups in the region of Cauca in southern Colombia have reported that troops of the Colombian Army's High Mountain Battalion have used civilians as human shields during fighting in the area between the Army and FARC guerrillas. The High Mountain Battalions have received British military training in recent years.

According to a January 17th communiqué from local human rights groups, soldiers from the High Mountain Battalion, accompanied by troops from various other units of the 3rd Brigade of the Colombian Army, arrived in the area around the hamlet of Cominera on January 15th. Cominera, which is home to peasant farmers and indigenous people, is in the municipality of Corinto in Cauca department.

At 8am the following morning, there was fighting between the soldiers and members of the 6th front of the FARC guerrilla group. During this fighting the soldiers used local residents as human shields and used homes in the area as combat posts. As a result a local indigenous woman, Marina Baicue Coicue, was shot in the leg, and 5-year-old Robin Jose Gugu was shot in the hand.

The British Government refuses to release details of the military assistance to the High Mountain Battalions although press reports have alleged that counter-insurgency training is provided (see 'Secret Aid Poured into Colombian Drug War' in The Guardian at http://www.guardian.co.uk/colombia/story/0,11502,994362,00.html)



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