Seven people were indiscriminately murdered in a rural area between the municipalities Uramita and Peque, in the west of the central Colombian Antioquia department. The department’s government secretary, Andres Julian Rendon Cardona, confirmed Thursday morning that authorities believe the killings to be the latest in a spate of rival drug gang-related violence.
Diana Maria Isaza Moreno, a local government representative, told El Colombiano that the incident occurred at around 6PM Wednesday when a group of seventeen attacked two car loads of people traveling between the two municipalities.
“When they were going to leave the principal road they were shot at by an armed group,” Isaza Moreno said. A 2-year-old girl is among the dead, and further two people were injured in the incident.
Rendon Cardona said he believes that a turf war between rival drug trafficking gangs in the region is behind the massacre.
Antioquia governor Luis Alfredo Ramos Botero called a security council meeting to address this, the latest in a series of massacres in the department.
Authorities attribute the wave of killings to a struggle between local narco kingpins “Valenciano” and “Sebastian” for control of the local drug trade. The two druglords were mid-level members of the Medellin criminal organization “Office of Envigado” run by the now-extradited “Don Berna.”
When the organization collapsed following Don Berna’s extradition, Medellin saw a rise in the murder rate, which authorities attribute in part to a feud between Valenciano and Sebastian, who had risen in the ranks to contest the position of number one drug trafficker.
According to La Hoja magazine, rivals battling for control of the Antioquia region hope to secure a corridor of mobility for arms and drug trafficking to the Uraba region, from which trafficking routes run to the Pacific coast.
In the first trimester of 2010, 503 murders were registered as linked to the bloody gang war, a 54.8% increase from the same period in 2009, Efe reports.