Colombia Tightens Election Security After Death of 21 Troops

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The Colombian government has said that local elections will go ahead as planned on October 30, despite attacks by armed groups costing the lives of 21 members of the security forces over the weekend.

Interior Minister German Vargas Lleras and Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon will travel to 22 of Colombia’s 32 provinces over the next few days to review security procedures.

The ministers embarked on their tour just hours after a bomb killed two policemen in southern Bogota in an attack the acting mayor of the city, Clara Lopez, said could be intended to “disturb the electoral process.”

Twenty-one members of the Colombia’s security forces were killed in rebel attacks last weekend alone. Twenty of them were soldiers who were killed in two ambushes by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the Narino and Arauca departments.

The interior minister has also warned of the danger of corrupt politicians, aligned to criminal groups, attempting to gain control of government budgets in some areas. According to Alejandra Barrios, director of the MOE, these are Colombia’s “most contentious elections because local power is the true power.”

See InSight’s special report on Colombia’s 2011 local elections here.

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