Colombia: Seven Police Officers Killed Following President’s Push for Peace

Colombian President Gustavo Petro
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By Alex Binley
BBC News

Police shields in ColombiaImage source, Getty Images
The attack is the worst since the new, left-wing president was sworn in last month

Seven police officers have been killed in an explosion and shooting attack in Colombia.

They were leaving a social event in the south-western department of Huila when their vehicle hit a road mine.

They were then shot dead in the ambush, a police spokesperson said.

It is the worst attack on security forces since former guerrilla Gustavo Petro was sworn in as Colombia’s first left-wing president less than a month ago.

Images obtained by newspaper El Tiempo showed bodies strewn around a police pickup truck.

Eight deaths were initially reported but the government later revised down the figure, to seven dead and one injured.

According to the national police and attorney general’s office, three of the officers who were killed were aged 20 or younger.

Mr Petro condemned the attack, calling it “a clear act of sabotage against peace” in a tweet.

Late on Friday he travelled to the regional capital of Neiva for a security meeting.

No group has said it was behind the attack, but Colombia’s Blu Radio pointed the finger at guerrilla groups operating in the area.

And security sources have said that dissidents from the now disbanded communist guerrilla group, Farc operate in the area, Reuters news agency reports.

Mr Petro was elected on a radical manifesto to fight inequality by providing free university education, pension reforms, and high taxes on unproductive lands – a departure for Colombia had previously voted only conservative presidents into office.

He also pledged to fully implement a 2016 peace deal that ended a 50-year long conflict with Farc and to seek negotiations with the still-active National Liberation Army (ELN) who are widely seen as the last organised guerrilla group operating in Colombia.

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