(CNN)Seven Colombian soldiers were arrested on Thursday after confessing to charges of sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl from the Embera Katio indigenous group, in the northwestern department of Risaralda, the country's Attorney General said. Their Army unit had been deployed there to enforce lockdown measures in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Colombian soldiers confess to sexually abusing indigenous girl, says Attorney General
The soldiers confessed to "aggravated abusive sexual intercourse with a minor younger than 14-years old," according to a statement from the Attorney General's Office published Thursday and are currently awaiting a civilian trial.
The leader of the Embera Katio community, Juan de Dios Queragama said in a statement that the alleged incident occurred last Sunday and that human rights workers had informed him of it.
"It appears that some friends from (the rural settlement of) Santa Cecilia found her, because her mother was looking for her as she had been lost.
"When she went to look for her, she found the child at her school. When they picked her up, the child couldn't walk. They took her directly to the hospital and from the hospital they took her to forensic services," Queragama told national news outlet RCN Wednesday. On Friday, she was still in the hospital.
The victim, her family and the indigenous group are currently receiving legal and psychological assistance by the Organization of Indigenous Nations of Colombia (ONIC), spokesman Silsa Arias told CNN on Thursday.
"Her health condition is very serious," Luis Fernando Arias, Senior Adviser for ONIC told CNN Thursday, adding that the 12-year-old "was kidnapped and raped for a period of 17 hours."
The case coincides with a turning point in the Colombian government's approach to sexual violence: On June 18, Congress passed a reform that would expand possible penalties for sex offenders to life in jail.