BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Colombia’s protection minister mentioned Wednesday that a number of younger individuals had been at a insurgent camp just lately attacked by the army, however wouldn’t verify studies that youngsters had been amongst these killed, an allegation that fueled deep outrage in a nation reeling from many years of battle.
In an interview on W Radio, the minister, Diego Molano, mentioned that “younger combatants,” who had been recruited and reworked into “machines of battle” by legal actors, had been current at a army operation meant to focus on a violent armed group.
However he declined repeatedly to disclose the ages of the lifeless, amid studies from native officers and information shops that a number of of these killed had been minors, together with a 9-year-old lady. Within the interview, Mr. Molano known as that data “illegitimate” and a part of a “political battle to offer data that sought to delegitimize our army.” On this system, the host learn out the names of these reported lifeless in native information studies.
The accusations immediately resonated in a nation scarred by many years of brutal inside battle involving the U.S.-backed authorities, left-wing rebels, right-wing paramilitaries and highly effective drug cartels — preventing that incessantly included little one combatants and claimed many civilian casualties. Immediately, the nation is split over a 2016 peace deal that sought to place an finish to that period, however has had solely restricted success.
On Wednesday morning, the Colombian army introduced it had killed 12 individuals in a army operation that focused the “legal construction” of an armed group run by Miguel Botache, recognized by the alias Gentil Duarte, a former member of Colombia’s largest insurgent group, the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
The FARC signed a peace cope with the federal government in 2016, formally ending the battle between the 2 sides. However some rebels, together with Mr. Duarte, deserted the peace deal and returned to arms.
Because the FARC has pulled out of huge swaths of territory, different violent teams have moved in, turning many communities into battlegrounds between the army, previous and new insurgent teams, and paramilitaries. For a lot of in Colombia, the battle has not ended.
President Iván Duque has been the topic of rising criticism that he’s not doing sufficient to cease the violence.
In late 2019, his former protection minister, Guillermo Botero, left his place after failing to reveal that a number of youngsters died throughout a army raid on a legal group.
Within the radio interview, Mr. Molano mentioned that the newest operation, which befell on March 2 within the division of Guaviare, fell inside the bounds of worldwide regulation. He blamed the leaders of armed teams for the deaths.
“We’re not speaking about younger individuals who didn’t know what they had been doing,” he mentioned of those that be a part of such teams.
“Who’s accountable for the recruitment, for changing them into machines of battle?” he added. “It’s these organizations, not the nationwide military.”
These feedback drew rapid criticism from a number of sectors of Colombian society, who mentioned that younger individuals recruited by armed teams must be handled as victims, not perpetrators.
The nation has been consumed for many years in a dialog about find out how to cope with little one recruitment.
“They aren’t combatants however victims of battle,” wrote Diego Cancino, a councilman in Bogotá, the capital, on Twitter. “Minister Diego Molano, you’ll be able to’t justify the unjustifiable.”
Sofía Villamil contributed reporting.