At least 10 people were killed on Sunday night in two separate incidents as armed attackers slaughtered seven people 50 miles north of Colombia’s second biggest city Medellin and three in the southwestern province of Cauca.
The massacre of seven occurred at approximately 10:30 pm, when a reported four heavily armed attackers entered a bar in the rural village of La Estrella outside the municipality of Yarumal, Antioquia firing at the occupants.
Authorities have not indicated as to who they think are responsible as of yet, but the commander of the Police Department of Antioquia acknowledged that the paramilitary group AGC and the Marxist-inspired ELN rebels are active in the area.
Colonel Mauricio Sierra told Blu Radio that “four heavily armed individuals indiscriminately shot at the people who were chatting at that site. Immediately our personnel presented themselves at the site. We already have the area cordoned off.”
A security council meeting will be held during which it will be decided, among others issues “the amount of the award for information that helps to find the whereabouts of the perpetrators if this massacre,” added the Colonel.
The incident in the province of Cauca occurred at approximately 6:30 pm in the rural village of El Plateado in the municipality of Algeria when gunmen opened fire on peasants in the area, killing three and wounding several more.
“It’s a delicate situation that happened around 6:30 p.m. this Sunday when several armed individuals arrived at this village in a vehicle to then shoot some people, as residents of the town explain to me,” said the mayor of the town Diego Alguilar to local media.
While authorities explained that the injured were immediately transferred to a local hospital where they are receiving treatment, they did not indicate that they are pursuing any particular line of inquiry.
The Colombian Human Rights Network of the Colombian Southwest ‘Francisco Isaias Cifuentes’ claimed that the security situation is complex in the area given the presence of illegal armed groups.
“The people of the area reported that eleven subjects arrived to El Silvery in a green four-wheel drive vehicle, to carry out this massacre. The victims are peasants of the area, the issue is complex because in the area there are groups outside the law,” said members of the organisation to newspaper El Pais.
With the disarmament of 14,000 people through the FARC’s demobilization, one of Colombia’s most violent armed actors left the battlefield but the continued presence of other illegal armed groups means that violence continues unabated.
The government’s failure to assume control of areas vacated by the FARC has led to the increased prominence of paramilitary groups such as the AGC who are vying for control of the illegal drug trade with other groups outside the law.
Attempts to introduce crop substitution programs have been met with fierce opposition by paramilitary groups with community leaders and human rights activists being slaughtered at a staggering rate.
While the government engages in peace talks with the leftist ELN, the rebels continue to engage in attacks and violence as they try to maintain their influence in drug trafficking and other rackets such as illegal mining.