The Francisco Cifuentes human rights organisation in Southern Colombia has reported a series of battles in the region in which troops have injured civilians. They accuse the armed forces of fighting in populated areas, of causing damage to civilian homes and to religious and cultural centres, as well as wounding villagers.
On January 15th fighting broke out in Altaquer, Narino province not far from the Ecuadorean border, between troops of the National Police’s EMCAR Mobile Squadron and of the 9th ‘Boyaca’ infantry battalion against guerrillas of the FARC’s ‘Marshal Sucre’ column.
Locals accuse the troops of the EMCAR of firing wildly and using the local school and local houses as firing points. As a result of this “disproportionate” military action the villagers panicked, and 8 year old Lisdey Nayerly Andrade Rosero was shot and wounded in the head. Villagers also accuse the troops of firing pepper gas indiscriminately.
On the 23rd of January the same units clashed, with similar results. EMCAR troops shot and wounded Pedro Vargas and Ember Chauca who were both sheltering inside a house. Troops accused villagers of being FARC guerrillas, demanded that they become informants and carried out arbitrary detentions during which they photographed and fingerprinted local people without reason and without court orders.
In Cauca department, in the town of El Mango, locals reported the wounding of 12 year-old Yuli Alejandra Diaz Munoz, who was hit by shrapnel at about 8pm on the 15th of January. She hid in a neighbour’s house, and on their way to the medical centre some hours later they tried to pass the police station in the centre of the town. One of the police shouted at them to turn back and called them “hijueputa guerrillas.” Despite her wounds the police forced the young girl to take another route to the medical centre. Locals in the same area report the arbitrary arrest of Jhon Jairo Solarte Tuquerres the neighbourhood association president, who was accused of being a FARC member.
In Corinto, Cauca department the Francisco Cifuentes NGO reports fighting between troops and guerrillas. Troops are accused of indiscriminate shooting, and using civilian houses as firing positions. The result was that two civilians, Edilson Troches and Saul Silva Mosquera were shot, one in the knee and one in the face.
In Villa Rica, where a police station was recently destroyed in a car bombing that killed 6 people, including the police commander, locals protested against the National Police decision to establish a base in the centre of the town because they feared it would provoke guerrilla attacks.
Sources : Justice for Colombia