Three more people have been arrested as authorities attempt to restore order in large parts of Colombia shut down by neo-paramilitaries.
Twenty-eight people have now been detained in the operation aiming to end the “armed strike” imposed by drug trafficking organization “Los Urabeños” Wednesday, in response to the killing of their leader “Giovanni.”
The armed strike, a Colombian term which refers to the enforced closure of businesses and public transport and curfew imposed on the population by an armed group threatening violence, began on the Caribbean coast January 4 and quickly stretched as far south as Santa Fe de Antioquia.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos headed a security council meeting Friday leading the mission to end the strike. He wrote on his Twitter account, “Los Urabeños will receive an overwhelming response to their show of defiance.”
Colombia’s Defense Minister, Juan Carlos Pinzon, said Friday that three leading members of Los Urabeños had been captured in Santa Marta, the capital of the Caribbean department of Magdalena.
Pinzon said, “Colombians must not let themselves be intimidated, they have public forces to protect them. The police and the military have strengthened their presence in all the urban areas where [the threat] has presented itself.”
However transport and business in Santa Marta remained almost completely paralyzed.
The public bus service is not running, with most drivers saying they will not return to work until businesses reopen.Increased security failed to prevent two taxis being set on fire on Thursday night.
The situation is improving in other parts of the country, with bus services between Uraba and Medellin resuming Friday morning.