Cali, Colombia, May 28 (EFE).- Three people died violently Friday here in Colombia’s third-largest city, the epicenter of a weeks-long “general strike” against the government of right-wing President Ivan Duque.
“Unfortunately, three people have died. I express my solidarity and condolences to their families. This situation has occurred between those blocking (the street) and those who wanted to pass,” Cali Mayor Jorge Ivan Ospina said in a video disseminated by his office.
A member of “First Line,” youths who deploy as human shields on the front lines of protests, told Efe and other media outlets that he saw a man whose path was blocked by protesters pull out a gun and begin shooting.
The man killed two people before he was overcome by the protesters and killed in turn, the eyewitness said.
Colombian Attorney General Francisco Barbosa subsequently identified the gunmen as Fredy Bermudez Ortiz, an employee of the AG Office’s CTI investigative unit.
“He was an official assigned to the CTI who, according to the information compiled so far, shot at several people, causing the deaths of some civilians,” Barbosa said, adding that Bermudez was off-duty at the time of the confrontation.
Thousands of Colombians took to the streets of the capital and other cities such as Medellin, Bucaramanga and Cartagena without major incident.
But in Madrid, near Bogota, demonstrators occupying a main highway clashed for hours with the Esmad riot police.
“I have asked the provincial police commander, the Esmad commander, with great force, to withdraw from our community. We don’t want more victims in our community, we want Madrid to be a territory of peace,” Mayor Andres Tovar said.
He went on to complain that Esmad units ostensibly engaged in clearing the highway advanced into residential areas, demanding that they “immediately withdraw because they are on our territory.”
Nationwide, more than 40 people have died during the protests, most of them at the hands of police. EFE eg-jga/dr