At least 17 people were killed over the last three days in Colombia in a spate of violent incidents, authorities said, highlighting the huge task facing President Gustavo Petro. In the northern city of Barranquilla, six people were shot dead by gunmen on Monday morning while drinking in a bar.
Police said the powerful Gulf Clan drug trafficking gang carried out the attack on members of the rival Los Costenos group. In the north-central Santander department, a teacher, his wife and two children were killed by a group of assailants on Sunday morning, local authorities there said. Five Venezuelan migrants, accused of being involved in the murders, were then lynched by vigilantes in an apparent act of revenge.
The local mayor had told a national radio station that the murderers were “people from Venezuela” who wanted “to steal money” and used knives to kill their victims. Following the attack, an injured employee of the murdered family alerted neighbours, who “took justice into their own hands and killed” the five attackers, said the mayor.
Overnight from Sunday to Monday, a local indigenous guard in the northeastern Arauca department was killed in unspecified circumstances, according to the Indepaz NGO.
On Saturday night, a union leader was shot dead by two armed motorcyclists in the northeastern port city of Barrancabermeja. And on Friday night, another local leader, a young woman, was stabbed to death in her home in the northern Sucre department.
Indepaz said those deaths took the number of murdered local and community leaders since the state signed a 2016 peace deal with Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrillas to 128. Petro, Colombia’s first left-wing president, vowed following his June election victory to bring about “total peace” in the conflict-ravaged country.
Colombia has suffered six decades of conflict involving leftist guerrillas, drug traffickers, right-wing paramilitaries and state forces. A former urban guerrilla himself, Petro has vowed to open talks with the country’s last recognized rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN). He has also said he would seek dialogue with drug traffickers in a bid to end the cycle of violence.
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