The death toll rose to nine in a suspected paramilitary attack in the Colombian Catatumbo region, the secretary of Victims of the department of Norte de Santander Luis Fernando Niño said Tuesday morning.
Colombian Authorities Complicit in 'Systematic' Violence Against Social Leaders
Preliminary investigations indicate that the murderers arrived at the place on a motorcycle and shot at the people who remained in the place.
The crime occurred in a pool located in the neighborhood of Villa Esperanza, in El Tarra, in northeastern Colombia. "Two of the dead and one wounded are part of the peace process with the FARC in transition as ex-militants, all accredited by the office of the High Commissioner for Peace," said Niño quoted by RCN News on its website.
Also, on Monday Raúl Buitrago,46, a peasant leader in the department of Caquetá was murdered. Buitrago was shot several times after leaving a meeting as vice president of a Community Action Board. He also led processes of substitution of illicit crops in the municipality of San José del Fragua.
Meanwhile, the ELN guerrilla condemned the massacre in a "public and categorical" manner stressing that this was "a paramilitary action", committed in broad daylight, while the group of citizens was in a public place. "Among the victims is a president of a Community Action Board, and others were relatives of members of social organizations in the region."
The ELN also called for a "prompt, independent and effective investigation to find those responsible for this collective slaughter, which increases the state of anxiety that lives in this region."
Colombia has seen a rise in the killings of social leaders and former FARC militants since the signing of the peace agreement between the FARC and the Colombian government in 2016.
Colombian authorities have documented the murder of 178 communal leaders and rights defenders since the agreements were signed in 2016. However, the Institute of Studies for Development and Peace places that number at 385. If the 18 murders since May 2018 are added, the total number of deaths stands at 403.
Also, outgoing Colombian President Manuel Santos said in May that at least 40 ex-FARC militants have been killed since the signing of the agreement and the dissolving of the FARC guerrilla group.