Colombia to deploy elite forces after killing of indigenous leader

TORIBÍO, Colombia (AFP) – Colombia’s government on Wednesday ordered the deployment of 2,500 elite troops to combat dissident FARC guerillas after an attack that killed an indigenous leader and four guards.

The country’s main indigenous organisation for its part denounced the “bloodletting” of its people and called for a national demonstration.

President Ivan Duque accused guerrillas who rejected a historic 2016 peace deal with the government that ended a half-century of armed conflict of wanting to use “weapons to silence and terrorize indigenous communities.”

In response, he announced the creation of an elite force of 2,500 troops that will have the mission of taking control of territory, “closing the drug trafficking routes” and “dismantling” the dissident organisation.

Leaders of the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia (ONIC) meanwhile said its people were being “persecuted, murdered and massacred.”

“We call all of Colombian society to stand up in defence of life, rights and territories,” said Luis Fernando Arias, a top ONIC adviser, at a press conference in Bogota.

Children look at an armoured vehicle in Toribio, southwest Colombia. PHOTO: AP