The Citizen (Gauteng)

Blood flows in Colombia

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Bogota – At least 42 people have been killed in near-daily protests against the Colombian government since 28 April, the country’s human rights ombudsman said on Tuesday.

All but one – a member of the armed forces – were civilians, the ombudsman’s office said.

The updated toll made these the bloodiest demonstrat­ions since Colombia signed a peace agreement with the Farc guerilla group in 2016, ending decades of civil war.

It is lower than the 47 deaths reported by NGOs, who claim at least 39 were the direct result of “police violence”.

The defence ministry has reported 849 police officers injured in clashes – 12 by gunfire – and has not updated the number of civilians wounded since 3 May, when it stood at 306.

President Ivan Duque said on Tuesday the security forces had acted with “absolute obedience to the constituti­on” and that any “violations due to individual conduct” would be investigat­ed.

However, student leader Jennifer Pedraza on Tuesday accused Duque’s government of being “complacent about the excessive use of public force”, and yesterday joined a call for fresh protests.

The protests, initially against a proposed tax reform, soon morphed into a broader anti-government protest.

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