The commander of Colombia’s Third Army Division, General Miguel Perez, was relieved of his duties Wednesday following an escalation of violence in teh southwest of the country.
The Colombian government discharged the general the same day an indigenous civilian was reportedly shot dead by army soldiers during a protest in the southwestern department of Cauca. Colombia’s Defense Ministry said Perez would be offered another position in the military.
In the past few weeks, FARC guerrillas have launched dozens of attacks against security forces, with authorities seemingly having problems keeping the situation under control.
On Wednesday, the protesters were driven out of an army base they had briefly occupied, in protest of the Colombian military’s presence in their community, the embattled municipality of Toribio. The indigenous community, commonly referred to as Colombia’s Baghdad by local media, has seen a recent spike in violence between government forces and FARC guerrillas resulting in hundreds of forced displacements.
The army said the shooting was a “military error” and that the circumstances would be investigated by the Prosecutor General’s Office.
President Juan Manuel Santos visited Toribio July 11 amid waves of protest, to announce “Plan Cauca,” a security strategy aimed at curbing violence in the department through increased military presence and encouraging social development.