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Saturday, 6 January, 2001, 02:03 GMT
Twelve killed in Colombia massacre
Map
Colombian police say gunmen in the northwestern province of Antioquia have killed at least 12 peasants, two days after an alleged paramilitary massacre in the same region.

State police commander Guillermo Aranda said residents in the village of Guatape were taken one by one from their homes by men in combat uniforms and shot in the head.


They came murdering peasants... these people did not have anything to do with the conflict in which these outlaw groups are engaged.

Police commander Guillermo Aranda

Coronel Aranda said it was not yet known if the killings had been committed by rebels or paramilitaries.

The authorities say they do not know who committed this latest killing.

The authorities have blamed paramilitaries for Wednesday's attack in which 11 suspected guerrilla sympathisers were rounded up in the town of Yolombo and killed.

Rebels and paramilitaries have been involved in intense combat for control of the area.

Getting worse

Police say they recorded 205 massacres in 2000, in which 1,226 were killed.

Most of the killings were attributed to paramilitaries.

According to the US-based group Human Rights Watch, paramilitary groups are responisble for 70% of the human rights abuses in Colombia, most of them massacres of unarmed civilians.

Correspondents say the conflict - which in the last decade has claimed some 35,000 civilian lives - has intensified in recent months.

Peace talks began two years ago between Colombia's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces (Farc), and the government, but were broken off two months ago by the guerrillas.

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See also:

25 Dec 00 | Americas
Colombia announces progress on peace
21 Dec 00 | Americas
Officers charged with massacre
06 Dec 00 | Americas
More Colombians flee violence
16 Nov 00 | Americas
Colombia's peace laboratory
07 Jun 00 | Americas
Colombia overture to rebels
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