Four people have been murdered in northern Colombia where multiple armed groups are vying for control over former FARC territory, local media reported Monday.
The massacre took place in a rural part of Caceres, Antioquia, a traditionally neglected area where the FARC’s rule was law until the group’s demobilization and disarmament in 2017.
According to preliminary reports, a group of 10 to 15 heavily armed men dressed in black and wearing emblems of anti-kidnapping unit Gaula arrived at a rural settlement by boat, dragged two men from one of the homes and executed them outside.
The group then opened fire at neighbors trying to flee the settlement, killing another two people, including a minor.
Before disappearing, the armed men threw a grenade into the home of the initial victims, destroying much of it.
Armed conflict analysts have also registered activity of rebel group ELN and dissident FARC guerrillas in the area.
Antioquia governor Luis Perez called an emergency security meeting on Monday to “follow up on the obtained results in the municipalities of Caucasia, Caceres and El Bagre” in the Bajo Cauca region that has been submerged in violence for decades.
The Antioquia Governor’s Office will continue to demand forcefulness to stabilize the region in Bajo Cauca.
Antioquia Governor Luis Perez
Bajo Cauca is of both economic and strategic importance to illegal armed groups because of the abundance of gold deposits, and its strategic location for drug trafficking to the Caribbean and the Pacific coast.
Despite its history of violence and the retreat of the FARC, security forces have failed to assume territorial control over the historically neglected area, leaving the locals at the mercy of illegal armed groups.