Colombia: indigenous communities targeted in war —again

The Colombian Air Force denied Jan. 31 that its planes had bombed the indigenous Embera Katío community of Alto Guayabal in the Urabá region early that morning, leaving four wounded. But the following day, the army’s Seventh Division issued a statement taking responsibility for the air-strike, saying they took place in operations against the FARC rebels. Calling the casualties “lamentable,” the statement said two of the injured were evacuated to Medellín. The Indigenous Organization of Antioquia (OIA) said one of the casualties was an infant. Indigenous leader William Carupia accused the army of “indiscriminately bombing the communities.” (El Tiempo, Bogotá, Feb. 2; El Colombiano, Medellín, RNV, Venezuela, AFP, Feb. 1) Last year the FARC was accused of assassinating Embera residents in the region.

On Feb. 1, one civilian was killed and three injured at the Nasa community of Los Robles, Cauca department, when a gun battle broke out between the military and FARC guerrillas. The four indigenous woodcutters were traveling on a mountain road when soldiers used their truck to hide from FARC gunfire. The guerillas then attacked the truck “indiscriminately with mortar bombs,” local indigenous authorities said. The dead man was identified as Ramon Iterera, 41.

Said the Association of Northern Cauca Indigenous Governors (ACIN): “In these conflicts human rights are not respected, no armed person should hide amongst civilians, in order not to put them at risk. In this case both the army and the guerrillas are culpable for the lamentable occurrence.” (Colombia Reports, Jan. 28; EFE, Jan. 27)

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