At least 11 killed as armed groups battle for territory in Colombia -government

At least 11 people were killed in clashes between two illegal armed groups in southwestern Colombia over the weekend, the defense minister said on Monday, as he announced rewards for information on the violence and promised better security. The deaths took place in rural areas near Tumaco, a Pacific port city in Narino province, Defense Minister Diego Molano told a news conference.

Reuters | Updated: 23-02-2021 02:45 IST | Created: 23-02-2021 02:45 IST
At least 11 killed as armed groups battle for territory in Colombia -government

At least 11 people were killed in clashes between two illegal armed groups in southwestern Colombia over the weekend, the defense minister said on Monday, as he announced rewards for information on the violence and promised better security.

The deaths took place in rural areas near Tumaco, a Pacific port city in Narino province, Defense Minister Diego Molano told a news conference. The Oliver Sinisterra - a group of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) fighters that rejects a 2016 peace deal - and Los Contadores - a gang - are vying for control of the area, he said.

Among the dead were members of the armed groups and civilians. "We have established that over the weekend there were four incidents where killings took place, presumably related to confrontations of criminals and their search for territorial dominance," said Molano.

There are some 9,700 hectares (23,969 acres) of coca crops in the countryside around Tumaco, enough to produce 75 tonnes of cocaine each year. The crop fuels disputes among illegal armed groups looking to make big profits, Molano said. Rewards of up to $56,000 for information leading to the arrest of 'El Gringo' and 'Mario 40,' the respective leaders of the Oliver Sinisterra and Los Contadores groups, are being offered.

The administration of President Ivan Duque has said it hopes to meet requirements demanded by the country's constitutional court as a precursor to restarting aerial spraying of coca with the herbicide glyphosate, possibly as early as March. Use of the herbicide was suspended in 2015 after the World Health Organization warned it could cause cancer.

Drug trafficking has long fueled Colombia's internal armed conflict, which has left more than 260,000 dead and millions displaced.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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