[QODLink]
Americas
Clashes in Colombia over military post row
One person is killed and 26 injured as army tries to drive tribesmen away from a hill-top military base.
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2012 09:03

Colombian security forces have clashed with indigenous activists who stormed a hill-top military base that they were occupying.

One person was killed and more than 20 others were injured in Wednesday's clashes in the Cauca province, in south-west Colombia, according to local media reports.

Anti-riot police were sent to Cerro Berlin after Nasa tribesmen carrying sticks had driven about 100 soldiers from the army post they were guarding on the mountain.

Early on Wednesday, police used tear gas to remove the indigenous group from Cerro Berlin, some two hours from the town of Toribio.

Indigenous leaders have called on both government troops and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to abandon the jungle-covered mountains so they can rebuild their lives after years of bloodshed killed dozens from their community.

Indigenous leader Marcos Yules said his people wanted all armed men, be it rebels or members of the security forces, to leave.

"We profoundly regret having to use force to restore our constitutional rights. This could have been avoided if the army heeded our request in due form and the government had ordered them to leave," the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca said in a statement.

War on FARC

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said the government will hold a meeting with Nasa representatives, but only once they stop occupying the army post.

Citing an email from a captured FARC computer, Santos blamed rebel propaganda for stoking tensions: "Without accusing, far from it, the indigenous people of being in cahoots with the FARC, but yes there are elements we know have direct links."

Santos said the government would not remove soldiers from the area, but it was open to dialogue even though pulling troops out from the region was not negotiable.

Santos swept to office in 2010 promising to build on the security advances that began under former President Alvaro Uribe, a US backed offensive weakened the FARC and drug gangs, making Colombia safer and fostering foreign investment.

In late 2011, Colombian forces dealt the rebels a major blow, killing FARC leader Alfonso Cano in Cauca. The province had become an area of intense military operations since Cano took over the insurgent group three years before.

Since then, rebels have fought back, stepping up attacks on economic targets like oil and mining installations and threatening the government's drive to restore Colombia's image.

394

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
join our mailing list