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Violence in Colombia Leaves at Least 28 Dead

Conflict: Bloodshed, which comes four days after rebels freeze peace talks, ranges from a bombing to slayings of townspeople.

November 19, 2000|From Associated Press

BOGOTA, Colombia — Insurgents killed unarmed townspeople and clashed with Colombian soldiers Saturday in widespread violence that reportedly left at least 28 people dead.

Also, a bomb packed onto a motorcycle exploded Saturday in a town in the heart of Colombia's coca-producing region, killing one person and wounding 18, including six police officers.

The bloodshed came four days after the nation's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, froze peace talks with the government aimed at ending a 36-year conflict.

The bomb exploded in downtown Puerto Asis in the southern region of Putumayo, which has been blockaded by rebels for two months. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The FARC has clamped a road blockade on Putumayo to protest the government's U.S.-backed plan to use troops to seize and eradicate the coca crops, used to make cocaine.

The rebels and a rival right-wing paramilitary group "tax" the coca producers and protect the harvests, earning millions of dollars.

On Saturday morning in the northwestern province of Antioquia, 50 FARC fighters searching for an escaped kidnap victim killed four people in the town of Florida after they refused to reveal the location of the fleeing hostage, said army Maj. Sergio Perez. The fate of the escapee was not clear.

The army also alleges that FARC combatants were responsible for killing between 10 and 15 people inside a farmhouse Saturday morning in the town of Frontino.

About 50 paramilitary fighters killed five people in the northern province of Cesar after accusing them of siding with rebels, national radio reported. Authorities could not immediately confirm the attack.

Meanwhile, six rebels and two soldiers have been killed in the western province of Risaralda. In the southwestern province of Narino, fighting that ended Saturday left an officer dead and three soldiers hurt.

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