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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Colombia seeks Israelis' arrests
United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC)
The AUC has demobilised thousands of fighters since 2004
International arrest warrants have been issued for three Israeli men wanted in Colombia in connection with the alleged training of paramilitary fighters.

Yair Klein, Melnik Ferry and Tzedaka Abraham are accused of giving military training in the 1990s to landowners' and drug-traffickers' private armies.

Prosecutors say those trained went on to carry out some of the country's most notorious political assassinations.

Some of the fighters went on to form a right-wing paramilitary group, the AUC.

Prosecutors have also accused the three men of working for the then powerful Medellin drugs cartel to create a personal army for its leader, Pablo Escobar.

The international arrest warrants for Yair Klein, Melnik Ferry and Tzedaka Abraham allege they instructed private, right-wing armies in "military or terrorist tactics, techniques and procedures," as well as conspiracy, a source at the Department of Administrative Security told the AFP news agency.

Disbanded

The AUC was formed as a right-wing umbrella group in 1997 by drug traffickers and landowners to combat rebel kidnappings and extortion.

The AUC has its roots in the paramilitary armies built up by drug lords in the 1980s, and says it took up arms in self-defence, in the place of a powerless state.

The group carried out massacres and assassinations, targeting left-wing activists who spoke out against them.

Since 2004, AUC fighters have been demobilising.

Tens of thousands of civilians are known to have died in the 40-year conflict between the state, right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing rebels.




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