The Colombian army asked forgiveness Monday for the deaths of two indigenous persons in a Friday shootout near the Ecuadorian border, earning the release of at least 12 soldiers taken hostage by the community.
General Marco Mayorga, commander of the battalion, acknowledged that soldiers under his command accidentally killed the two indigenous persons, both guards of the community “Los Pastos”, reported Spanish news agency EFE.
After the shooting, the roughly 500-person community blocked entry to investigative prosecutors and also detained a group of 12 to 15 soldiers, reported Caracol Radio. On the other hand, El Tiempo wrote the soldiers were held only five hours.
While EFE reported that the shootings occurred as soldiers pursued suspected FARC guerrillas or cattle thieves, the community told El Tiempo that the two died in the middle of a shootout between the FARC and the army.
El Tiempo added that the commander blamed the error on the darkness of the night.
The whole region, but particularly the municipalities of Caloto, Jambaló and Toribio, has been torn by violence recently, as confrontations between the army and the FARC have grown, Caracol Radio reported.