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Colombian Congressman Assassinated

by AP Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2001 at 4:26 AM

``Life in this country is worthless,'' a fellow member of congress, Jose Alfredo Escobar, said at the scene of the assassination.

Colombian Congressman Assassinated

Tuesday October 9, 2001 4:50 AM

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - Motorcycle gunmen killed a

lawmaker in the capital on Monday, and suspected paramilitary

attackers shot to death a union leader at a U.S.-owned coal

mine in northern Colombia, officials said.

News of the killings came only three days after a

government-rebel agreement raised hopes of an eventual

cease-fire in Colombia's 37-year conflict.

Congressman Luis Alfredo Colmenares, slain as he drove his

car along an avenue of upscale shops in north Bogota, was the

second member of congress killed in a week. Police have not

said who they believe killed Colmenares, a member of the

opposition Liberal Party from Arauca, an oil-rich but violent state

near the Venezuelan border.

The right-wing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC,

has been moving into the state, long a bastion of leftist

guerrillas. Last Tuesday, another Arauca congressman, Octavio

Sarmiento, was shot and killed by suspected AUC gunmen near

his farm.

Defense Minister Gustavo Bell blamed ``dark forces who are

silencing the voices of democracy.''

The slain labor leader, 39-year-old machine operator Gustavo

Soler, was president of the union representing workers at a coal

mine in northern Cesar state owned by Alabama-based,

Drummond, Ltd. The company issued a statement deploring the

killing.

Soler was shot two times by suspected paramilitary gunmen,

Cesar state police said. His body was found Sunday.

The congressman's shooting in Bogota continues a wave of

violence against lawmakers. Five others have been killed in the

past year. Four are hostages of leftist guerrillas.

``Life in this country is worthless,'' a fellow member of congress,

Jose Alfredo Escobar, said at the scene of the assassination.

According to Escobar, Colmenares - an expert on energy issues

- was traveling without bodyguards because he was on a leave of

absence from the congress, taking courses in the United

States. He was in Colombia on a brief visit, Escobar said.

The congressmen was found slumped in his car, which had

swerved to the side of the road after the attack.

Monday's shooting underscores rising tensions even as the

government and rebels claim to be making progress in peace

negotiations. On Saturday, Luis Alberto Pinzon, a physician

who served on a peace panel recommending action against the

paramilitaries, announced he was fleeing the country due to

AUC death threats.

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Must be the Al Quida Earthling Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2001 at 5:20 AM
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