Columbia: Nine killed in separate attacks amid growing violence | News in Latin America

Three separate attacks came after the helicopter carrying President Ivan Duque was shot near the border with Venezuela on Friday.

At least nine people, including four police officers, have been killed in three separate attacks across Columbia, which has seen a recent rise in violence and instability in many parts of the country.

Three off-duty police officers were killed in an attack by gunmen in the northeastern town of Pailitias, a police statement said Sunday. One of the officers’ pregnant wives was injured.

In the south of the country, five men have been found murdered in San Vicente del Caguan, Mayor Julian Perdomo told AFP news agency.

A fourth police officer was also killed in “an incursion by an armed group” in a neighborhood of the southwestern city of Cali, said Mayor Jorge Ivan Ospina.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for any of the three attacks, although authorities often blamed armed groups – including dissidents who refused a 2016 peace deal between the government and rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. Colombia (FARC) – for such violence.

The sign of a bullet impact is seen on a helicopter that Colombian President Ivan Duque was flying, after suffering an attack during a crash in Cucuta [Colombia Presidency/Handout via Reuters]

The wave of attacks comes next a helicopter carrying President Ivan Duque and other government officials were shot near the Colombian border on Friday.

No one on board was injured, but photos posted by the Duke’s office show the tail and the main blade were hit. The government has offers a reward of almost $ 800,000 for any information on who was responsible

Earlier this month, car bomb explosions at a military base in the northeastern city of Cucuta – the same city Duque’s helicopter had flown to when he was shot down – also wounded 36 people.

Colombian observer group Indepaz says there have been 45 massacres – the killing of three or more people in a single event – so far this year.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a March report that Colombia had seen a resurgence of violence last year, since at least five conflicts with armed groups were ongoing. The ICRC said 389 people – mostly civilians – had been killed by explosive devices last year, the highest number since 2016.

More than 27,000 people will be displaced in Colombia in the first quarter of 2021, the country’s human rights defender said in April, a jump of 177 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.

The ombudsman said people have been forced out of their homes amid threats, killings, forced recruitment by armed gangs and clashes between armed groups.

Colombia has also seen regular anti-government protests since April, when a proposed tax reform that critics said would disproportionately harm the middle class and workers has pushed thousands into the streets.

Protesters have long questioned the government’s actions to tackle poverty, inequity in health and education and growing violence across the country. Rights groups have has raised concerns about police violence linked to those protests.

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