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"The Chainsaw Massacre" Is Not a Movie in Colombia: Witness
Published on Thursday, April 19, 2001 by Agence France Presse
"The Chainsaw Massacre" Is Not a Movie in Colombia: Witness
by Jacques Thomet
 
BOGOTÁ -- "The Chainsaw Massacre is not a film in Colombia," said government ombudsman Eduardo Cifuentes, referring to the April 12 paramilitary massacre in Alto Naya, 650 kilometers (404 miles) southeast of here.

He was revealing details of the massacres of civilians which occurred during Easter week in this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country in a wave of right-wing paramilitary and leftist guerrilla violence.

It left some 128 people dead, including 40 in Alto Naya, according to official reports quoted by Cifuentes in an interview with AFP.

The former Constitutional Tribunal president visited the massacre sites Monday at a remote jungle area in the Western Andes mountains, in the Cauca department.

Around 400 paramilitaries took part in this "caravan of death" against civilians accused of supporting leftist guerrillas, Cifuentes said in his Bogota office.

"The remains of a woman were exhumed. Her abdomen was cut open with a chainsaw. A 17-year-old girl had her throat cut and both hands also amputated," said the ombudsman, providing details of "the cruelty and extreme abuse of the paramilitaries."

"They carried a list of names around. The would kill many for insignificant reasons, like not explaining where they got their cellular phone," he said.

"A neighbor pounced upon a paramilitary that was ready to shoot him and took his weapon, but unfortunately he didn't know how to fire a rifle. They dragged him away, cut him open with a chainsaw and chopped him up," a witness of the massacre told El Espectador daily.

In all the massacres, "some by the guerrillas, some by the paramilitaries, the civilian population are the victims," said Cifuentes, adding that he has already come under a "death threat."

He said there were "4,000 people unable to leave the Alto Naya area since the massacre," and that authorities have been asked to set up a "military airlift" to feed them.

"Nobody, paramilitary or guerrillas, respects international human rights," said Cifuentes before providing details of a recent attack on Almaguer, also in Cauca department, by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's largest rebel group.

The FARC "blew up the church and destroyed three neighborhoods with tractors and pipe bombs."

Around 400 FARC guerrillas killed at least 28 civilians and destroyed 20 stores Sunday in Taraza (450 kilometers -- 280 miles -- northeast of here), whose inhabitants were also charged with helping "the enemy," meaning the extreme right-wing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).

Cifuentes has yet to visit that massacre site.

Some 200,000 people have been killed since 1964 in Colombia's civil war.

Kidnappings average 3,000 a year and the violence continues unabated despite ongoing peace talks between President Andres Pastrana's government and the FARC and the National Liberation Army, the country's second-largest leftist rebel group.

The ELN took 27 employees hostage from US-owned Occidental Petroleum near the Cano Limon oil fields, 500 kilometers (310 miles) northeast of here.

Copyright © 2001 AFP

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