Seven peasant farmers found murdered in Cauca

Seven peasant farmers aged between 25 and 35 years old have been killed in the Argelia zone of Cauca.

The bodies were found on a main road close to the village of Desiderio Zapata. All the victims had gunshot wounds and at least some had been tortured. According to eyewitness reports, the bodies were dumped from two 4×4 vehicles during the early hours of 3 July.

Local residents said that a week earlier threatening pamphlets were distributed in Argelia by a group identifying itself as the Popular Cleansing Command (Comando Popular de Limpieza, CPL). No information has yet been given around the identity of the killers.

During Colombia’s long-running armed conflict, the FARC had a strong presence in Argelia and the surrounding region. Since the FARC demobilised under the terms of the 2016 peace agreement, zones formerly under its administration have seen an escalation in violence against social leaders and other civil society groups as armed groups attempt to fill the resulting power vacuum.

The region is lucrative for armed groups due to high levels of illegal mining and coca production. More civil society activists have been murdered in Cauca than in any other part of the country since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016.