Twelve years old children recruited by rebel groups
According with local sources, rebels and paramilitary forces started operating in Bogota, country's Capital City. Besides, many citizens denounced to the press recruit campaigns from both sides to gather urban militias.
For the first time, local authorities admitted that the long-running country's conflict has in Bogota one of its main scenarios. City's officials confirmed that exist at least eight critical areas where fights between guerrillas and paramilitary forces led to dozen of deaths during the last months.
The critical social and economic situation of Bogota is an invitation to this kind of activities. Unemployment ration grew up to 19% and citizens lack of normal supplying of public services in the outskirts. This is a constant amid Latin American largest cities; however, the delicate political situation of Colombia tends to aggravate the conflict.
Both leftist guerrillas and right wing paramilitary groups recruit 12 years old children from public schools, as families are afraid to send them there. Irregular forces, also address ultimatums claiming families for leaving their homes to set up their operation basis. From there, these groups organize their operations and control territories.
One example of this is the missile attack launched on August to the Palace of Government during President Alvaro Uribe's assumption. The offensive took the lives of 21 and sow panic amid the high ranked international officials invited to the ceremony.
"Now, with Uribe in power, it is necessary to intensify guerrilla's warfare to make feel our activities in the largest cities of the country and in Bogota in particular". These words were attributed to a commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia -FARC by its initials in Spanish-. Also, authorities received a number of denounces about presence of paramilitary forces in the South of the city.
Citing security concerns, the U.S. Embassy in Bogota announced Wednesday it will reduce consular operations through Christmas. Besides, Associated Press reported last week that leftist rebels fighting the Colombian government launched a string of attacks in the capital that put authorities on high alert.
In a 40 years conflict where the largest narcotraffic mafias have their own army (paramilitary groups) and peasant's interest are protected by other army (Marxist rebels), Bogota was one of the safest places. However, as peace talks end, country's Capital is turning into a battlefield.
Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina
Photo: FARC, the largest Marxist rebel group of Colombia.
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