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by ANNCOL News Monday, May. 27, 2002 at 8:34 PM

A new UN report confirms the guerrillas’ version of the Bojaya tragedy, where a stray guerrilla mortar shell struck a church May 2nd killing at least 117 civilians who were being used as human shields by paramilitary gunmen.

24.05.2002 (ANNCOL News) Colombia’s main guerrilla organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has previously acknowledged that one of its mortar rounds accidentally hit a small Catholic church in the village of Bojaya during fierce fighting with paramilitary troops. The civilian deaths occurred as the explosive crashed through the roof and detonated.

Officials from the Colombian office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights travelled to the area in North-western Colombia and talked to local government fficials and residents of Bojaya and several other villages hit by the fighting between the allied forces of paramilitaries and government troops and the FARC.

The UN blames the right-wing paramilitary gunmen for seeking refuge amongst the civilians in the village provoking the battle that eventually led to the civilian deaths. According to the UN the death squad members belonging to the main paramilitary umbrella organization AUC placed their main defensive positions outside the front of the village church.

The UN investigators also found evidence that the Colombian military was working with the paramilitaries, citing the fact that the government forces allowed at least 250 heavily armed death squad members to pass through three separate checkpoints on their way to the area.

The guerrillas attacked the paramilitaries as they began to massacre local civilians suspected of having leftist sympathies. After the attack government forces rescued the surviving death squad members.

Colombia’s US-backed security forces have previously been criticised for their collaboration with the paramilitaries, who have massacred several thousands of Colombians in recent years.
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