(Washington, DC, March 27, 2017) Five community members were shot and killed in unclear circumstances in the western Colombian province of Chocó on the night of March 25, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. The Colombian government should take immediate measures to investigate the deaths and aid families who have been displaced.
The killings took place in the Afro-Colombian community of Carrá in the municipality of Litoral de San Juan. Initial reports from community members said that victims were caught in the crossfire between the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas and the Gaitanist Self-Defenses of Colombia (AGC). A human rights official later told Human Rights Watch that, according to local residents, there was no such clash and men with the ELN emblem had appeared in town and begun firing indiscriminately into the community. Similarly, the mayor told the media that there was no clash and an armed group had shot “indiscriminately” at civilians. The Attorney General’s Office reported that seven ELN members apparently killed the civilians under unspecified circumstances and left an ELN flag in the community. The ELN later denied the claims by the Attorney General’s Office and suggested that the AGC was responsible for the killings.