Reports of some 300 assassinations in cities along Colombia’s Caribbean
coast so far this year are creating a growing sense of insecurity in
the north of the country.
A farmer, his companion and a passer-by were all were killed Tuesday in the busy Bazurto market in Cartagena. Authorities from the coastal city told El Universal that the murders were committed by ‘sicarios’, hitmen on a motorbike.
According to newspaper El Heraldo the majority of the murders are the work of hit men, hired by leaders already behind bars in Colombia and the U.S. Others supposedly are the work of emerging groups competing for territory vacated by former gangs.
Police Commissioner in Córdoba in north west Colombia, Colonel Sergio López Miranda, recognized it is necessary to redouble efforts to thwart the assassination attempts but said it was difficult, as most of the murders are drive by shootings from the back of a passing motorbike. The Police Commissioner added that the number of murders increased in the last few weeks, but overall murders are down 21% in comparison with the same period last year.
Menacing graffiti appeared overnight Sunday in several towns in the north eastern department of la Guajira, further enhancing the tense atmosphere of the coastal region. El Informador reported the appearance of pro-paramilitary graffiti scrawled across shopfronts denouncing police informants.
The Caribbean coast of Colombia traditionally is crucial for the export of illicit drugs.