A town in a war-torn region in northern Colombia has been left without hospital after the killing of a doctor spurred his colleagues to flee on Sunday.
Doctor Cristian Camilo Julio Arteaga, 24, was murdered El Bagre, a town in the war-torn Antioquia province on Saturday.
According to local authorities, two men on motorbikes ambushed the young man on a main road and shot him without saying a word.
The doctor had just ended his shift and was on his way to his home in Caucasia to celebrate mother’s day with his family,
Arteaga was in El Bagre for a rural placement year, a compulsory part of the qualification.
The doctor reportedly had not received any death threats, and the motives of the crime remain unclear, local police said.
At this moment the authorities of the municipality of El Bagre are evaluating the situation and analyzing the possible hypotheses of what could have caused the death and who could be responsible for this act.
Colonel Giovanny Guitrago
Doctors living in fear
Arteaga’s murder provoked outrage in the town and fear among the doctor’s colleagues, six of whom fled the town, leaving El Bagre’s hospital empty.
Locals marched in protest of the doctor’s murder almost immediately after it happened. Many of Arteaga’s colleagues and members of the union took part in the protest.
Medical professionals have called on the local authorities to do more to protect the safety of doctors in Bajo Cauca, a historically neglected region where paramilitary group AGC and Los Caparrapos have been waging a turf war.
Antioquia Health Secretary Alejandro Perlaza supported the doctor’s plea for improved security and called on local and national authorities to recognize the security issue in Bajo Cauca.
We are deeply concerned, and are calling upon regional and national authorities to help up solve this difficult problem.
Antioquia Health Secretary Alejando Perlaza
The local doctors fleeing the region shut down the Our Lady of Carmel hospital, leaving the 75,000 inhabitants of El Bagre without any medical assistance.
The health secretary said it would be difficult to get the hospital up and running again because of the widespread fear sown by the murder.
Artega’s funeral took place on Sunday in Monteria, the capital of the northern Cordoba province, where he was studying. Several medical organisations held vigils in his honor.