Indigenous people in Colombia’s southwestern Cauca region Monday released three army members held captive since the death of one of their people amid clashes between the military and the FARC guerrillas.
Alvaro Chocue Ramos was shot in the head on Saturday near his home in the village of La Esmeralda during a confrontation between troops and the Jacobo Arenas column of the FARC operating in the area.
The people of the indigenous Nasa tribe captured a sergeant and two soldiers present at the scene and were holding them with the intention of conducting a public hearing, according to reports.
Negotiations between Colombia’s ombudsman and the Regional Council for the Indigenous people of Cauca to secure the release of the soldiers and to clarify the circumstances that surrounded Chouce’s death resulted in the army members’ release Monday.
General Jorge Humberto Jerez, commander of the operating task force denounced the capture of the soldiers and said that the army members could not be prosecuted by the indigenous authorities, who have accused the military of firing on their people, according to media.
The general said that the incident could be further researched when authorities could speak to the soldiers who are being held by the indigenous people.
At a meeting Sunday attended by indigenous leaders and the military in the main square of the township of Caldono, the civil authorities called for the release of the army members while the indigenous people said they were retaining the military members in order to investigate the death.
The incident is now in the hands of the prosecutor general.
A similar situation occurred in 2012 when a group of soldiers was retained by the indigenous after the death of one of their tribe members.