18 dead after two guerrilla groups battle for drug trafficking areas

Dominic Smithers

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18 dead after two guerrilla groups battle for drug trafficking areas

Featured Image Credit: Long Visual Press/Signal Photos/Alamy

At least 18 people were killed after two armed militias clashed over the weekend.

The deaths came as members of the two FARC dissident factions fought for control over drug trafficking areas in Colombia on Saturday (19 November).

According to Colombia's defence minister Ivan Velasquez, the violence occurred between the 'Border Commandos' and the first front 'Carolina Ramírezin', the country's southern jungle, in a rural area of Putumayo province, which borders both Ecuador and Peru.

It's the highest death toll from fighting between these illegal armed groups since the country's president Gustavo Petro took office in August.

Speaking about the violence, Velasquez said: "People from the population collected corpses and moved them to the cemetery.

At least 18 people died during a clash between two rebel groups in Colombia over the weekend. Credit: Sipa US/Alamy
At least 18 people died during a clash between two rebel groups in Colombia over the weekend. Credit: Sipa US/Alamy

"Eighteen people died in the confrontations. There are no reports of people from the community, although some families have been displaced."

President Petro has previously promised to work towards bringing 'total peace' to the country, which has been in the grips of a civil war for over half a century.

The attorney general's office said this week that government negotiators had begun peace talks with the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels, with all negotiators working on the side of ELN having their arrest warrants suspended.

This isn't the first time efforts have been made to find a peaceful solution to the conflict; previous attempts have failed to make any headway.

Talks were called off three years ago after the ELN killed 22 police cadets in a bomb attack.

However, President Petro has now promised to carry on with pledges made in the 2016 peace deal, which allowed more than 13,000 members of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to reintegrate into civilian life and form a political party.

He also offered to reduce sentences for those who offered drug trafficking information in exchange for crime gangs giving up their weapons.

A civil war has been raging in Colombia for over half a century. Credit: REUTERS/Alamy
A civil war has been raging in Colombia for over half a century. Credit: REUTERS/Alamy

Medellin, a Colombian city once known as one of the most violent places on Earth, recently celebrated an unusual milestone after going seven days without a murder for the first time in its history.

Three decades ago, the bustling metropolis was the epicentre of the South American drug trade, hosting a variety of assassinations, massacres and car bombs linked to the city’s eponymous cartel and its notorious boss, Pablo Escobar.

But following Escobar’s death in 1993, the city has slowly started to benefit from an economic turnaround, cashing in on its narco-heritage to draw record numbers of tourists from the US and abroad.

At one point in time, the city of Medellin topped the global homicide list, recording up to 19 killings a day during Escobar’s heyday in 1991, but since his death the city has seen a 97 percent reduction in murders as the area seeks to reinvent itself as a tourism hotspot.

Speaking about its achievement of seeing a whole week without murder, Medellin drug dealer 'Joaquin' (not his real name) said: "Peace is good for business."

Topics: News, World News, Crime, Police, Politics

Dominic Smithers
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