Medellín gang violence seems to be spiraling out of the control of
authorities when Tuesday at least eight people were assassinated, just
two days after the city had its most bloody weekend since Pablo
Escobar ruled the city’s underworld in the 1990’s.
Unknown men killed five and seriously injured at least two young men in Barrio Popular, one of the poor neighborhoods in the north east of the city. Authorities say the shoot out was a revenge of the murder on a demobilized member of the AUC, who was shot dead while driving his car in the nearby Santo Domingo Sabio neighborhood.
In that incident a street vendor died, because the car the alleged paramilitary was driving crashed into the vendor.
Earlier that day, two men were assassinated inside a barbershop in Comuna 13, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods in the west of the city. The barber attending one of the deadly victims was injured.
Monday another four men were shot, according to local paper Q’hubo.
The violence exploded this weekend when within 48 hours fifteen men were assassinated, but the surge has been feared for many months as tensions between former members of the AUC rose and the newly formed Águilas Negras seemed to want to take over the city’s underworld and pressured the city’s many demobilized members of the AUC to join the feared illegal armed group.
Local media reports say little about the involvement of ‘Don Mario’ in the current wave of violence and local and police authorities give different explanations about the explosion of assassinations.
Local authorities unsuccessfully tried curbing the soaring violence after an equally violent night in February. Motorcycles were no longer allowed to carry passengers, because the number of assassinations carried out by ‘sicarios’ or hitmen on motorbikes saw a 20 percent rise compared to the 183 murders committed with motorbikes in 2008.
To show the national authorities were taking the security situation in Colombia’s second largest city serious, National Police commander Oscar Naranjo moved his office to Medellín for a week to personally take charge of the fight against crime and to halt the influence of groups like that of ‘Don Mario’ in the city, but without apparent effect.
Responding the wave of violence Tuesday, Medellín mayor Alonzo Salazar, who was accompanied by a group of U.S. congressmen, told local newspaper El Colombiano the city was dealing with “territorial disputes”.