Colombia’s national authorities have begun investigating whether police last week committed a massacre that was blamed on dissident FARC guerrillas.
On Monday, the National Police announced it would suspend four anti-narcotics agents accused of having opened fire on a group of protesting coca farmers in the southwestern municipality of Tumaco.
Prosecution investigators were sent to the area on Friday and were, according to newspaper El Tiempo, investigating the crime scene on Sunday.
Vice-President Oscar Naranjo, a former national police commander, also traveled to the southwestern municipality of Tumaco to personally be informed about the incident that killed at least six and possibly as many as 15.
Vice-President Oscar Naranjo requested the suspension on the day an ombudsman mission bringing foreign observers to the area was suspended after a different police unit opened fire on Sunday.
Until Saturday Naranjo and the security forces claimed dissident FARC guerrillas had opened fire on the police. By Sunday, however, the VP said he hoped the National Police would suspend the officials implicated in the massacre.
One would hope that the institution itself quickly announces the suspension of the policemen to offer the full guarantees while justice comes to a conclusion in regards to responsibility.
Vice-President General Oscar Naranjo
Also the National Police in Bogota admitted on Monday that the anti-narcotics police “allegedly used their firearms” against the unarmed protesters.
In a press release, the police commanders also expressed their solidarity with the families of the victims of the “regrettable” incident that left more than 30 people injured.
Naranjo and the police force are under increased pressure to forcibly eradicate 50,000 hectares of coca while executing a peace process.
This has been a major challenge around Tumaco, a former FARC hotspot and one of Colombia’s most prominent coca growing regions.