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Right wing death squads butch seven in Colombia

The attack came as Bogota makes efforts to ease tensions with leftist Venezuela on the case of the illegal arrest of a top rebel officer.

Uniformed right wing death squads butched seven members of a family in Colombia on Saturday, hours after the government announced a summit between Colombia's conservative President Alvaro Uribe and his leftist Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, aimed to ease tensions on the controversial capture of a top Colombian rebel in Venezuelan territory. Authorities told the press on Monday that the attack took place in San Carlos a remote, mountanious region of the country where paramilitary groups operate.

The massacre occurred on Saturday but authorities only learned of it Sunday night, when one of the three people wounded in the attack reported it to Colombian army troops. According to preliminary reports, killers acussed their victims of being rebel collaborators. At the moment, the local police is working on the recovering of the bodies shot to death by paramilitary fighters.

The attack has a political menaning as is the first of its kind reported by authorities since the conclusions of the peace talks between the government and paramilitaries, which ended with a peace proclaim from bandit leaders last year. It also came hours before a hardly negotiated visit of President Uribe to Caracas aimed to ease tensions after Colombian special forces arrested a prominent rebel leader in Venezuela's capital.

It also came hours before a right-wing paramilitary unit surrendered its weapons in northeast Colombia on Sunday, which constitutes the latest demobilization ahead of an international conference on the much-criticized peace process. That day, a 126-member unit of the United Self-Defense Forces, or AUC, disbanded in Ciudad Bolivar, 155 miles northeast of Bogota, bringing to at least 4,700 the number of fighters who have demobilized in the past two years, reported government Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo said.

President Uribe has been pursuing peace talks for more than two years with the paramilitaries. The AUC, labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, funds itself mainly through cocaine trafficking. As the AUC and other death squads persist on their mass murders, the international community has refused to participate in peace talks between the government and paramilitaries amid concern that warlords accused of atrocities and drug smuggling could be let off the hook.

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