A mayoral candidate and five others were murdered while on campaign in southwest Colombia, local authorities said Monday.
Authorities initially thought the candidate had been kidnapped until forensic investigators found the remains of six incinerated people inside the car, Cauca governor Oscar Ocampo told Blu Radio.
The authorities confirm that inside the vehicle there are incinerated bodies among which would be the candidate, her mother, the driver and three other people.
Cauca governor Oscar Ocampo
The bodyguard of the candidate was able to jump out of the car at the time of the attack and survived, Ocampo said.
Cauca police commander Colonel Fabio Rojas said he suspected a FARC dissident group that is active in the area is behind the massacre.
Multiple armed groups operate in the northern Cauca region, which has seen political and ethnic violence spike since the demobilization of the FARC in 2017.
The victim for weeks had reported death threats and said that one of her competitors was behind the destruction of campaign posters her team had put up in the municipality. In a video, she said that an illegal armed group told campaign workers they had received orders not to allow her and her only to take part in the elections.
Days before her death, Garcia accused outgoing Suarez Mayor Hernando Ramirez, who is of of her own party, of failing to provide the adequate security to candidates.
Garcia is the sixth mayoral candidate to be assassinated in the year leading up to Colombia’s local and regional elections that are held on October 27. At least five city council candidates have also been murdered, according to the independent Electoral Observation Mission.
The electoral observers have been warning about the threat of political assassinations after the demobilization of the FARC guerrillas left a power vacuum in regions like northern Cauca and triggered a wave of assassinations that, according to the Ombudsman’s Office, left almost 200 social leaders dead in the last year alone.