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The BBC's Jeremy McDermott in Colombia
"Authorities have been unable to enter the area"
 real 28k

Sunday, 15 April, 2001, 02:36 GMT 03:36 UK
Massacre in Colombia
FARC rebels
The paramilitaries are fighting the left-wing FARC rebels
Right-wing paramilitaries have killed at least 25 civilians in a remote area of southwest Colombia, according to officials and witnesses.

The massacre took place at the town of Alto Naya, 650km southwest of Bogota, on Thursday.

Colombia's human rights ombudsman, Eduardo Cifuentes, said that corpses of people suspected by the paramilitaries of collaborating with leftist rebels were "strewn along the road".

The paramilitaries, grouped under the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia, or AUC, are fighting Colombia's two leftist rebel groups, the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Atrocities

They are funded by ranchers and businessmen frustrated by the country's armed forces ineffectiveness in dealing with the rebels.

Human rights groups accuse the AUC, which is believed to have more than 6,000 fighters nationwide, of committing most of the massacres and other atrocities in an increasingly brutal civil conflict that has claimed 35,000 lives in the past decade.

Both the AUC and their opponents are suspected of receiving substantial funds from the cocaine trade.

The Naya locality is a key strategic point for controlling the flow of cocaine to the Pacific, local TV said quoting army sources.

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See also:

29 Mar 01 | Americas
Hidden costs of Plan Colombia
15 Feb 01 | Americas
Thousands flee Colombian violence
10 Feb 01 | Americas
Colombia peace talks to resume
22 Jan 01 | Americas
Fight against drugs makes headway
14 Jan 01 | Americas
Eyewitness: Inside a cocaine factory
28 Mar 01 | Americas
Colombia frustrated by EU aid
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