‘FARC Blockades 200 Civilians in Choco’

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Colombia’s biggest guerrilla group the FARC is holding 200 individuals prisoner in the Pacific coast province of Choco, according to reports which have been denied by the armed forces.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) detained some 80 individuals who were travelling in boats on the Atrato river, near La Mercedes, reports El Colombiano.

The captives were reportedly sent to the villages of San Rafael and La Serpia, also in the Medio Atrato region, and told to wait there until the end of an “armed strike” on June 2. The total number of captive individuals is 200, according to El Colombiano.

The mayor of Medio Atrato, Luis Moreno, said that there were some 250 people being held, according to Caracol. He attributed the attack to the 34th Front of the FARC.

Choco Governor Malcom Ali Cordoba said that some of those in detention had spoken to their families, and had reported that they were fine.

A local parish priest said Monday that the captives were being used as human shields, but the authorities have denied this. Armed forces commander Admiral Edgar Cely said that while people have been prevented from traveling down the river, they are not being held prisoner by the FARC.

These events follow the fatal shooting of one policeman and three civilians on Sunday, said to have been carried out by the FARC.

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