Army and Paramilitaries Sowing Terror in Narino Department

News from Colombia | on: Saturday, 12 April 2008

Various civilians have been killed in the Colombian department of Narino in what locals claim is a joint military operation being carried out by a paramilitary death squad and troops of the 19th Mobile Brigade of the Colombian Army. The majority of the victims have been peasant farmers living in an area known as Llorente in the municipality of Tumaco.

According to local human rights groups the entire region is heavily militarised though the security forces are allowing a 'Black Eagles' paramilitary unit to move around freely and carry out selective killings. The human rights organisations claim that a Colonel Jerez, attached to the 19th Mobile Brigade, is overseeing the offensive.

The most recent killings, on April 9th, occurred in the village of El Pinde when a heavily armed group of paramilitaries arrived on motorcycles at the home of peasant farmer Felipe Palmas. The paramilitaries interrogated him demanding to know the whereabouts of his children before torturing and then killing him. The same group of paramilitaries then moved on to the snooker hall in the same village where they found Mr Palmas' son-in-law Carlos, whom they also tortured before shooting 23 times.

In a separate incident on April 3rd soldiers, allegedly accompanied by paramilitaries, were attacked by a group of FARC guerrillas near the village of Magui at approximately 2pm. After the guerrillas withdrew the soldiers and paramilitaries proceeded to destroy the village shop saying that everyone in the area supported the guerrillas so deserved to starve. During the earlier combat a soldier had thrown a grenade at 25-year-old civilian Alexandra Soto, blowing her leg off.

On March 31st paramilitaries arrived at the home of Luis Alfredo Casanova at a place known as Villa Bomba on the road connecting the towns of Pasto and Tumaco a road with numerous Colombian Army checkpoints and roadblocks. The paramilitaries forced Mr Casanova out of his home and, in front of his partner, held guns to his head whilst interrogating him about who in the local community supported the guerrillas. After they had finished questioning him the paramilitaries shot Mr Casanova dead.

These latest abuses have occurred only shortly after soldiers and paramilitaries perpetrated a massacre of four civilians in the same region (see article linked to below) and after a series of threats recently made by soldiers against residents of Narino.

For previous news from Narino see:

Soldiers and Paramilitaries Carry Out Massacre in Narino Department, March 2008

Abuses Continue in Narino Department, December 2007

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