Alexa

Gunmen kill Colombian paramilitary leader

Gunmen kill Colombian paramilitary leader

Gunmen shot and killed a paramilitary leader as he was dining at a restaurant in the western Colombian city of Medellin, police said Thursday.
Jaime Andres Angarita, 33, was considered the right-hand man of warlord Salvatore Mancuso, the architect of a 2003 peace deal with the government that has led to the demobilization of 31,000 militia fighters.
Police in Medellin, Colombia's second largest city, said Angarita was shot late Wednesday by two gunmen who escaped on a motorcycle. Authorities did not speculate on a possible motive.
Mancuso and other paramilitary leaders have complained of receiving death threats in recent months, purportedly to prevent them from revealing secrets about their ties to Colombia's political elite.
On Dec. 19, Mancuso became the first major militia commander to give closed-door testimony before a tribunal established to examine the paramilitaries' role in some of Colombia's worst atrocities.
The proceedings are being closely watched by the pro-U.S. government of President Alvaro Uribe, which has been shaken by a scandal linking several Uribe allies _ including the head of his intelligence service _ to the right-wing militias.
Already three pro-Uribe Congressmen have been arrested for allegedly financing, arming or plotting murders with the militias. Dozens more lawmakers and top officials are expected to face criminal charges after the Supreme Court reconvenes in January.
Angarita, 33, said he was a political supporter of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC for its Spanish initials, rather than an armed combatant. He tried to run for Congress this year with a pro-Uribe party, but his candidacy was eventually prohibited by party bosses.
In an interview earlier this year, he told W Radio the government was not doing enough to guarantee the safety of demobilized paramilitary fighters, saying "the road to peace is full of land mines."
From the start of the peace process through November, according to Colombia's national police, 371 demobilized paramilitaries have been killed. Another 880 have been arrested on charges of drug-trafficking and other crimes.
The United States lists the AUC as a foreign terrorist organization and is seeking the extradition of Mancuso and several other militia leaders on drug-trafficking charges.
The far-right militias were first formed two decades ago by wealthy ranchers to protect their land holdings from raids by leftist rebels trying to overthrow the government for nearly a half-century. They quickly evolved into powerful criminal gangs that controlled vast parts of the country and are blamed for civilian massacres and other abuses.


Updated : 2021-03-03 20:17 GMT+08:00