Over 600 police killed by rebels since 2003

A total of 633 Colombian police have been killed by guerrilla attacks in the past seven years, according to a police report released Monday.

The report details the incidents that resulted in police casualties between January 7, 2003, and September 1, 2010.

The report by DIJIN, the investigative branch of the Colombian police, found that only 24 of the cases examined resulted in more than five police deaths in a single confrontation. Although the report notes only two confrontations in the whole of 2009 and the first half of 2010, it found there have already been 28 police deaths in the first month of Juan Manuel Santos’ presidency, which started August 7.

According to the report, the Colombian departments of Choco and Meta have been some of the most affected by violence against police. In Choco, there were four attacks on police between 2003 and 2010. The most serious attack in that department took place on May 19, 2005, in Tado, where a FARC attack on a police unit left ten officers dead. The department has been the site of 33 police deaths in the period covered by the study.

The department of Meta saw 63 police killed in nine separate attacks, according to the report. The department of Caqueta saw 24 police killed, while the deadliest single attack took place in Cesar on November 1, 2006, when seventeen police were killed.

The most recent FARC attack took place last Friday in Putumayo, where six policemen and two guerrillas were killed. Including government figures from the first two weeks of September (numbers not counted in the DIJIN report), there have been over 40 police deaths since Santos took office August 7. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights representative in Colombia, Christian Salazar, 56 people, including guerrillas and members of the armed forces, have been killed so far in September.

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