Ongoing combat between guerrilla and paramilitary groups in the northwest of Colombia is putting thousands of locals at risk.
The 57th front of the leftist FARC guerrilla group, ELN guerrillas, and the neo-paramilitary “Urabeños” group, have been involved in armed confrontations over the control of drug trafficking routes in the Uraba region.
The Ombudsman issued a warning after registering four combats between the armed groups and three injuries incurred form anti-personnel mines between September 20 and October 20.
Armed struggle between the three groups have cornered 10,000 inhabitants of the Bajo Atrato area as they continue to obtain control of the river based municipalities of Rio Sucio and Carmen del Darien, through which an important drug trafficking route leads to the Caribbean sea, the Ombudsman’s Office said.
On October 17, 159 people were put in to improvised refugee camps by the Ombudsman after having to abandon their homes as 200 armed men entered the locals’ jungle hamlets.
Other citizens were confined to their homes on October 3 because of a violent confrontation between guerrillas and neo-paramilitary.
Three alleged members of the Urabeños died in combat with guerrillas on October 13.
The most recent battle recorded by the Ombudsman was on October 18 between the 57th front of the FARC and members of the Urabeños in the municipality of Rio Sucio.
The FARC, the ELN and the Urabeños all rely largely on drug trafficking to finance their organizations. The leftist guerrillas are currently engaged in peace talks with the government while the neo-paramilitaries are the result of a partially successful peace process with paramilitary groups AUC held between 2003 and 2006.