miércoles, 30 de enero de 2013

Colombian rebels vow to pursue kidnapping

Politicians in Colombia were indignant at the declaration by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that they "reserved the right" to kidnap members of the armed forces as before, in spite of ongoing peace talks with the Colombian state. The FARC's negotiating team in Havana issued a communiqué or posted one on the website Twitter, referring to hostages as "prisoners of war" who had surrendered to them, though apparently they stated they would not kidnap for ransom, El Espectador and the broadcaster Caracol reported on 30 January. The FARC's announcement apparently did not mention the two policemen kidnapped by them on 25 January. Colombia's Vice-President Angelino Garzón said the FARC were "challenging" the talks with their announcement and said the government should consider the conditions in which it was talking to the FARC. He said Colombia was able in any case to end the insurgency by military means, Caracol reported. The state's chief negotiator at the talks Humberto de la Calle Lombana likewise urged the FARC "to say once and for all at the conversations table if they want peace, but do not waste the government's and Colombians' time," qualifying the two policemen as hostages, not prisoners, El Espectador reported on 30 January. Colombia's former conservative president Álvaro Uribe Vélez, a critic of the peace talks from the start, accused the government of effectively legitimizing the FARC by talking to them. He told a radio program that "what the government is doing with this policy is to authorise kidnapping," RCN La Radio reported. It was nonsense he said to discuss land tenure with the FARC when these he alleged were the main agents depriving people of their lands; "they validate the FARC as prophets of the land," he said. "Fierce fighting" was separately reported on 29 January between troops and the FARC, in the southern districts of La Unión Peneya and Puerto Asís; the army killed three guerrillas and captured four while four soldiers were injured, Caracol television reported.

Deputy-mayor, city official shot dead in Honduras

Gunmen shot dead the deputy-mayor of La Ceiba on the Caribbean coast of Honduras on 29 January, the police reported. Authorities were investigating the motives for the killing of Ángel Salinas, Guatemala's Prensa Libre reported. Dailies noted that three mayors were killed before Salinas in the period from June 2012. These were the mayor of La Labor in the western Ocotepeque department, killed on 18 June, the mayor of Dolores in Ocotepeque, killed on 4 December and the mayor of the central town of Esquías, gunned down with three others on 19 January, Proceso Digital reported  Another municipal official gunned down on 28 January was identified as the head of Purchases and Supplies for the municipality of El Progreso in the department of Yoro. José Rolando Girón Mirada was executed apparently soon after he left his home to go to work, in spite of pleading for mercy while clutching a Bible, Tiempo reported, citing witnesses. Three people including a 12-year-old were separately shot dead on 29 January in the districts of Choloma and Villanueva in the northern department of Cortés, La Prensa reported, while three were reported killed in Tegucicalpa on the night of 28-29 January. One was a taxi driver who had failed to pay extortion money, Tiempo reported.

Over 20 reported killed, found dead in Mexico

The review Proceso put the death toll from presumed criminal incidents in Mexico from late 28 January through 29 January at 16; the dead included suspected criminals, policemen, unidentified civilians and an 11-year-old girl, earlier reported as kidnapped and found dead in the district of Tecomán in the western state of Colima. Five others were found in ditches or makeshift graves that day in the north-central state of Zacatecas, in the districts of Noria de Ángeles and Sombrerete, Proceso reported on 29 January. The number excluded the group of musicians kidnapped early on 25 January in the northern state of Nuevo León and whose bodies were found days later on an estate. Seventeen members of Kombo Kolombia were now believed to have been massacred, while police were interrogating one survivor to find out about the conditions and motives of the killings, Proceso reported. Separately authorities arrested on 29 January 24 people including 14 foreign nationals, described as forming an extortion and kidnapping gang that operated in northern Mexico; the gang called itself Defenders of Christ, Proceso reported. The group, headed by a Venezuelan who arrived in Mexico as a tourist in 2006, reportedly operated in the northern district of Torreón and the north-eastern district of Nuevo Laredo near the US frontier. The suspects were detained on a road between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey, after relatives of their victims gave information to police.