A study released by the Prosecutor General’s Justice and Peace office says that the paramilitary umbrella organization AUC recruited more than 2,800 minors to fight over a fifteen year period.
The study shows that a total of 2,824 minors were armed and trained to fight by 36 paramilitary blocs that have now officially demobilized, with another number of minors fighting for paramilitary groups that were not identified. On average, most recruited minors were twelve years old.
The Northern Bloc, headed by the now extradited Salvatore Mancuso, had recruited the most minors with 443. The Elmer Cardenas bloc, active mainly in the Cordoba and northern Antioquia departments and which counted captured druglord Daniel Rendon Herrera, alias “Don Mario,” as a member, had recruited 428 minors. The Southern Bolivar Bloc is third with 239 minors.
The paramilitaries are not the only illicit group to have recruited child soldiers. Police have previously said that an estimated 2,400 minors are fighting among the ranks of the FARC. A recent incident incident involving a child who was killed while carrying explosives, reportedly belonging to the FARC, near the Colombia-Ecuador border also caused a national outcry.