Paramilitaries Kill 17 in Choco

News from Colombia | on: Sunday, 15 June 2008

An army-backed paramilitary death squad operating in the region of Choco along Colombia's Pacific coast has murdered at least 17 peasant farmers in recent weeks. The killings, which have all taken place in the municipality of Docordo, have caused over 100 people to flee the region in fear of their lives.

In the most recent incident, on June 11th, peasant farmers Juan Paulino Moreno, Lizardo Acevedo, Tirso Vallecilla and Luciano Moreno were all killed by the paramilitaries near the village of La Playita before being dumped in a common grave. Previous to this four fishermen had been killed by the death squad and, at the end of April, a further nine peasant farmers were massacred near the community of Orpua.

Residents of Choco say that local army units cooperate closely with the paramilitaries and allow them to operate freely. Other reports suggest that the army and paramilitaries are jointly involved in drugs trafficking in Choco a remote region with easy access to the Pacific Ocean.

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