BOGOTA - The Colombia far-right paramilitary group
AUC said on Sunday it killed two congressmen
earlier this month, accusing them of leftist rebel
links and warning it has more legislators in its
The AUC Web site
(http://www.colombialibre.org) said its
paramilitary fighters were responsible for killing
Luis Alfredo Colmenares and Octavio
Sarmiento, both congressmen representing the
opposition Liberal Party.
"The AUC's capital city front, fulfilling in Bogota
orders from our organization's chiefs of staff,
killed Octavio Sarmiento and Alfredo
Colmenares Chia, both recognized bandits," said
the outlawed AUC -- Spanish initials for United
Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.
The 8,000-member paramilitary force accused
Sarmiento of links to the leftist rebel group
FARC and said Colmenares was close to a
smaller Marxist guerrilla army, the ELN.
Two gunmen on a motorcycle killed Sarmiento
on Oct. 8. Colmenares was shot to death six
The far-right AUC, which is largely funded by
anti-guerrilla cattle ranchers and by drugs
money, said it respected the nation's "honourable
Congress" but said it had its eye on several other
of its members. It accused these of being corrupt
and guerrilla sympathizers.
"This unpatriotic group, who number no more
than five, should correct their attitude," said the
AUC, which has earned a blood-curdling
reputation for massacring suspected civilian
guerrilla collaborators and has killed hundreds of
people so far this year.
The United States has branded the AUC, the
FARC and the ELN "terrorist" organizations.
Owing its origins to cattle ranchers and drug
bosses fighting back against extortion by leftist
rebels, the AUC is the fastest-growing force in a
37-year-old war which has claimed about
40,000 mainly civilian lives in the past decade
AUC WANTS A POLITICAL ROLE
While the use of chainsaws and other macabre
weapons by its members has made the AUC
deeply feared, the organization has recently
insisted it wants to assume a more political role
and will avoid its past "excesses."
In its communique, the AUC said it condemned
a series of massacres carried out by some of its
members in the southern province of Valle del
Cauca over the past week. It said its fighters
were not acting on orders of national
"Not all of those killed were innocent, but nor
were they all guilty, and even if they had been
this action should be condemned," it said.
The worst killing took place around the small
village of Buga, in hilly cattle and farming country
about 160 miles (250 km) southwest of Bogota.
The local mayor told Reuters they separated 24
men from the women, children and old people,
and told them to run before shooting them to
The army -- which human rights groups accuse
of failing to break links of some of its men with
the AUC -- said on Sunday it had captured 18
paramilitaries, including nine from the area near
Buga. Colombia's top human rights official wants
soldiers from the area investigated to see
whether they could have prevented the killings
but failed to act.
Copyright 2001 Reuters