Colombia Indigenous Leader ‘Murdered by Urabeños Hitman’

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A Colombian indigenous leader was gunned down in her home, allegedly by a hitman belonging to the Urabeños drug trafficking group.

Melida del Carmen Fuentes Hernandez, leader of the local Zenu Council, was shot twice in her home in the northwestern department of Cordoba on Monday, reported El Heraldo.

According to the president of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), there have already been 20 indigenous people murdered this year, which the group attributed mostly to criminal organizations such as the Urabeños and the Rastrojos, both of which are active in the northwestern regions of Colombia.

In many of these cases authorities have not been able to determine a motive or apprehend a suspect, although indigenous mining conflicts and land reform have been cited as possible motives.

Authorities have not confirmed whether or not Fuentes was involved in land reform campaigning.

Indigenous organizations have warned that indigenous groups in the central province of Antioquia, which borders on Cordoba, are at risk from conflict between guerrillas and drug gangs, known as BACRIM, in the region.

Other recent killings of prominent members of indigenous groups include Fernando Tequia, governor of an Embera Katio reservation in Antioquia, and Jorge Mejia Estrada, vice governor of a Senu community in the same province.

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