Probe into massacre of 12 Colombian Indians launched

Updated on May 15, 2004 09:24 PM IST

The government officials have launched a probe into a massacre of 12 Indians in northern Colombia, in April 18 violence blamed on paramilitaries, indigenous representatives said in Bogota.

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PTI | ByAgence France-Presse, Bogota

Officials have launched a probe into a massacre of 12 Indians in northern Colombia, in April 18 violence blamed on paramilitaries, indigenous representatives said on Thursday.

Paramilitaries massacred Wayuu people at Bahia Portete on the upper Guajira peninsula bordering Venezuela, the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia charged in a statement.

"Members of paramilitary groups came to our village, taking possession of the land, mistreating and killing people and destroying our cemetery, which represents our ancestors," the organisation said.

Twelve women, children and old people were tortured and slain in the incident.

Some 30 people are still missing, including several children.

"We are worried about finding our missing children. We do not know whether they are dead or alive. Some reports say the children have been burned," it added, saying body parts had been found in the village.

A humanitarian commission left five days ago to investigate, Mayor Marcelino Gomez said.

A spokesman for the human rights ombudsman's office said in recent days hundreds of indigenous people have fled their villages amid persistent violence in the region.

"No one is left. Everyone has gone looking for security and protection," said the indigenous group, which, with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, claims indigenous communities are victims of an extermination campaign by paramilitary and rebel groups.

Uribia Mayor Marcelino Gomez told AFP that a humanitarian mission made up of local officials, prosecutors and human rights groups had travelled to the area to investigate.

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