Conflicts & War

Colombia deploys military in Cali after 13 deaths in protests

By Jessica Villamil Muñoz

Cali/Bogotá, May 29 (EFE).- The military and police patrolled empty streets in the Colombian city of Cali Saturday following a wave of violence a day ago that left 13 dead.

Colombia’s third-largest city was once again the epicenter of violence during the last month of unrest.

Thirteen people were killed, mostly by firearms, according to the authorities, after violent clashes between protesters and the security forces.

Mayor Jorge Ivan Ospina described Friday as a “fateful” and “painful” day.

He said it had not been established if all the victims were related to the protests.

The National Police, which recorded 10 killings in Cali, alleged that “only three of them coincide with places where protest activities took place.”

It is therefore difficult to establish how many of these killings were by the security forces.

The government forces trying to unblock the streets on Friday shot at some hooded persons accused of causing chaos and vandalism in the city.

The Director of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (DIJIN), General Fernando Murillo, said Saturday that some civilians used firearms indiscriminately against other people.

Moreover, several journalists said they were assaulted by the police when they were reporting on these cases.

According to the police, 148 murders have been perpetrated in Cali this month so far, almost twice as many as in May of 2020, when there were 79, or the 71 recorded in April.

It is not known how many of these crimes were linked to the protests.

Nonprofits Temblores and the Peace and Development Studies Institute (Indepaz) put the total number of people killed during protests at 60, out of which they say 43 were killed by security forces.

Of these, 39 were killed in Cali, most of them in the first week of protests.

Meanwhile, the attorney general’s office has announced that 43 people died during the demonstrations but that only 17 of them had a direct link to the protests.

It also continues to search for the 123 people reported missing in the protests.

Thirty-four people were also injured in Friday’s riots while three buildings were torched, including a store where at least one charred body was found, according to official figures.

In Cali, capital of the agro-industrial department of Valle del Cauca, there are seven blockades in important areas, which have been classified as “points of resistance,” located in poor neighborhoods and where protests have gained much momentum.

Colombian President Ivan Duque, who traveled to Cali on Friday and ordered the “maximum deployment” of the military to restore order, toured the city on Saturday.

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