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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 April, 2003, 05:02 GMT 06:02 UK
Easter carnage in Colombia
By Jeremy McDermott
BBC correspondent in Medellin

Suspected guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC, have attacked a religious procession in a central province, killing three people and wounding two others.

It appears to be the Colombian rebels' response to the government's promise to protect citizens over Holy Week.

Good Friday Passion play in Medellin
Easter events are being marked across this strongly Catholic nation
The people of Dolores in Tolima province were marching through the town in a religious procession marking the stations of the cross when shots were fired and pandemonium ensued.

Suspected FARC rebels opened fire on members of the security forces who were accompanying the procession.

But of the three people killed, one was a 14-year-old boy, and one of the wounded was also a child.

The armed forces had told Colombians they would guarantee security over Holy Week, and armed convoys are escorting motorists along strategic highways in this battered Andean nation.

But the guerrillas saw government assurances as a challenge and have broken the tranquillity of the festival in this deeply Roman Catholic nation.

The Marxist guerrillas are no friends of religion and, according to government statistics, have been responsible for the murders of almost 40 priests and pastors over the last four years.

The fear is that there will be more rebel disruption of the holiday season as the guerrillas seek to undermine the security police of hardline President Alvaro Uribe and force the government back to the negotiating table on their terms.

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Country profile: Colombia
08 Feb 03  |  Country profiles

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