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Monday, 29 November, 1999, 07:43 GMT
Journalists killed in Colombia
Colombian soldiers The Colombian military has been largely unable to control the conflict

By Jeremy McDermott in Bogota

Two Colombian journalists were shot dead on Sunday while covering local elections in a northern region where Marxist rebels and right-wing paramilitaries are vying for supremacy.

Military officials said the dead men were two local television reporters, Luis Alberto Rincon and Alberto Sanchez.

Their bodies were found by the side of a road in Santander province.

One had a single shot through the eye, the other 10 bullets put into his head.

The authorities are not sure who carried out the murders.

History of killings

Both right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing guerrillas are fighting for control of the area and both have long records of human rights abuses and silencing those who speak out against them.

The Colombian civil conflict is entering its 36th year, and with the last two killings, the total since August is five journalists killed and 13 kidnapped.

Journalists are usually freed after promising they will broadcast a message for whichever side has abducted them.

Colombians have called for a truce
Others are executed for having ignored previous warnings to shut-up.

Journalists are not alone, as human rights workers are regularly threatened or even killed.

Amnesty International closed down its Colombia office back in 1997 after two investigators who had worked for them were gunned down in their Bogota apartment.

In March this year, three American indigenous rights activists were executed by the country's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Their corpses were found hooded and bound on the Venezuelan border and bore signs of torture.

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See also:
03 Nov 99 |  Americas
Colombian rebels free journalists
25 Oct 99 |  Americas
Millions march for Colombia peace
10 Jul 98 |  Americas
Guerrillas' 40-year war

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