Thirty peasants reported killed by paramilitary gunmen |

Thirty peasants reported killed by paramilitary gunmen


BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) – Police said they were investigating reports that as many as 30 peasant farms were massacred Wednesday by paramilitary gunmen.

Witnesses and local reporters first told authorities about the alleged killings near the village of Buga in the Cauca River valley 155 miles southwest of Bogota.

The paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, has previously killed civilians whom they suspected of aiding leftist rebels who have been waging a 37-year war against the Colombian state.

Despite President Andres Pastrana’s efforts to negotiate an end to the war, violence has continued unabated across this South American country.

In northern Colombia, gunmen stopped vehicles traveling on a highway near the Caribbean Sea between the provincial capitals of Santa Marta and Riohacha and shot dead three counternarcotics police and three civilians, police said.

In the nearby Great Marsh, a lagoon west of Santa Marta, the bodies of six fishermen who had been kidnapped four days ago by suspected paramilitaries gunmen were discovered.

The Colombian Defense Ministry says that 303 people had been killed through July of 2001, 199 of them by the AUC. The U.S. government, which is providing millions of dollars in military aid to the Colombian government, recently added the AUC to its list of terrorist organizations in the world, along with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

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