Pubdate: Mon, 13 Nov 2006
Source: Dominican Today (Dominican Republic)
Copyright: 2006 Dominican Today


Six people were shot to death and six others were injured by a 
roadside bomb this weekend in Buenaventura, where the soaring murder 
rate this year is making the port city one of Colombia's top killing 
fields, officials said Sunday.

The execution-style murders that included a six-year-old child on 
Saturday and the bomb on Sunday that injured four soldiers, a police 
officer and a civilian were blamed by police on drug traffickers, who 
have turned Buenaventura into a major shipping point for cocaine.

The killings bring the death toll this year to 305, said Mayor Saulo 
Quinones, giving Buenaventura the chilling murder rate of 100 per 
100,000 inhabitants, ranking alongside Medellin (160 per 100,000) and 
Cali (90 per 100,000).

Other Buenaventura officials said the city's real murder rate is much 
higher but impossible to determine because many of the killings are 
carried out by drug traffickers who instill fear and silence on the 
local population.

"They take the young people out to sea and they are made to 
disappear. Their families know nothing and don't report it to the 
police because they are afraid," said an official who asked not to be 

The violence, experts said, has soared since right-wing paramilitary 
groups (paras) recently disbanded, making leftist guerrillas like the 
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) believe they could 
corner the drug market.

"The FARC thought they could control the neighborhoods where the drug 
is hidden and the mangroves from where it is smuggled onto awaiting 
freighters in open waters. However, the paras may have dropped their 
ideology but not their (drug) business," said a local leader who 
identified himself simply as Batista.

Most of the murder victims are poor, black and under 30, who make up 
60 percent of the city's unemployed.
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