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News > Latin America

Colombia: Death Toll May Rise in Tumaco Massacre as Evidence Exposed

  • Sign reads,

    Sign reads, "Stop the Killings." | Photo: EFE

Published 10 October 2017

Conflicting evidence from the official incident report says only six peasants died, while witnesses claim at least 10 were killed and others have gone missing since the attack.

Hidden evidence at the scene of the massacre in Tumaco, Colombia may reveal a larger death toll, a national campesino organization said.

Colombian Officials Admit to Police Killing of Campesinos, 4 Suspended

During an interview with NC Noticias, Luz Perly Cordoba director of the National Coordination of Cultivators of Coca, Poppy, Marijuana said the lack of transparency and the “concealment” of evidence by police is inhibiting the investigation process.

"There are still corpses in the area that (residents) have not been able to recover because the police are hiding evidence," said Cordoba, adding that based on information collected from the population in the Tumaco area, there are people missing since the attack.

On Oct. 5, state police forces opened fire on a group of protesting coca growers who were contesting the forced eradication of their crops by the government, killing to date at least eight people and injuring over 50.

On Sunday, a human rights mission was attacked by members of the security forces in Tandil, a village in Tumaco, as they approached the site of the massacre. Journalists were also caught up in the shooting.

The police fired shots and grenades at the group as they attempted to enter the area, according to the Office of the Public Defender.

After continuously denying allegations, the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office admitted that the police opened fire on the campesinos and as a result, four police officers were suspended for their involvement in the deaths, according to El Tiempo.

In a communique, Voices of Peace urged the government to implement the integral agrarian reform that would distribute land more equitably.

It said that the killings were not an isolated case, but are rather “due to the escalation of the confrontation between authorities, in particular, public police forces, with the people in the most marginalized areas of the country where families have had to resort historically to the cultivation of illicit crops to guarantee their vital minimums for survival.”

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