Authorities in southwest Colombia said Tuesday they are investigating reports claiming at least 13 people were killed in fighting between guerrillas.
According to Spanish press agency EFE, some 8 people were reported missing after the fighting in Magui Payan, a municipality in the west of Nariño where multiple illegal armed groups are vying for control over Colombia’s most important coca-growing region.
According to newspaper El Colombiano, there is also uncertainty among locals about the exact number of casualties and the groups involved in the most recent outbreak of violence.
Others reportedly claimed the clashes were between different dissident FARC factions that have formed after the November 2016 peace agreement.
Leaders interviewed by El Colombiano and inhabitants of the region say they will not comment on what really happened out of fear there will be attempts against their lives.
Local authorities said they were still investigating the alleged massacre.
At approximately 1PM, the majority of people who live in that village, some 70 people, were at a party when the situation occurred. However, we still do not have an official report of what that confrontation left.
Magui Payan Mayor Walter Quiñonez
There was a confrontation between the structures led by “David” and “Sabalo,” but the exact number of people who were injured or killed is unknown. A verification commission of was dispatched and we are waiting to know what happened.
Nariño Government Secretary Edgar Insandara
In Nariño, hundreds of dissident FARC members have joined multiple post-FARC guerrilla groups. Other illegal armed groups like the ELN and AGC are also active in the region.
The drug violence around the port town of Tumaco has complicated an ongoing peace process with the FARC.
A demobilized guerrilla leader was forced to leave the area after death threats, the country’s peace commissioner said last week.
At least seven local coca farmers were killed in clashes with police earlier this year amid efforts to forcibly remove coca plants.
The long-neglected region is one of Colombia’s most important regions for the cultivation of coca, the base ingredient for cocaine.