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Tales of Colombia    Plan Colombia    Key Players    Timeline    Issues

Police suspect rebels in Colombian bar massacre

BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) -- Hooded gunmen killed a dozen people in a gangland-style slaying in a bar in southern Colombia, authorities said on Friday.

It was the worst incident of its kind since last June, when an Uzi-toting gunman killed 11 people in a crowded bar in a working-class neighborhood of the Colombian capital.

Police said the latest attack was staged by suspected urban commandos of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's largest Marxist rebel group, late Thursday evening in Santander de Quilichao, a town in southwest Valle del Cauca province.

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Police quoted witnesses as saying the gunmen, who arrived in two all-terrain vehicles wearing ski masks and brandishing automatic assault rifles, forced their victims to lie face down on the barroom floor before shooting them.

Police sources said they suspected the FARC was responsible for the killing because at least some of the victims -- 11 men and a woman -- were linked to a local right-wing paramilitary group.

Two women were injured in the bloodletting in the bar called "El Recuerdo" and there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, police said.

Colombia's increasingly brutal internal conflict, which pits leftist rebels against ultra-right paramilitary groups and state security forces, has taken 35,000 lives since 1990.

It is a conflict in which the body count of civilians caught in the cross-fire of seemingly uncontrolled levels of violence rises day-by-day.

In a related development, police and military officials said FARC rebels killed nine peasants on Thursday in a rural area of northwest Antioquia province, after accusing them of collaborating with paramilitary gunmen.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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