miércoles, 5 de junio de 2013

Bogotá taxis to boost security with "panic alarms"

Devices activating "panic alarms" are to become available to taxis in Bogotá, anticipating possible emergencies like attempted assaults and to protect drivers and passengers from crime, media reported on 4 June. Fear of theft and violence haunts both taxi drivers and passengers in many Latin American cities, and police in Bogotá have advised residents not to hail a taxi on the street, especially at night. It is difficult to determine who fears whom more. The panic button activates technology that instantly alerts the police and the taxi authority in the capital, and is already installed in 480 taxis in Bogotá, Caracol radio reported on 4 June, citing comments by the capital's Government Secretary or security affairs coordinator, Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo. The "button" appeared to be in an application called Digital Plus, which could be downloaded freely onto mobile telephones or similar devices; once activated the alarm would send the taxi's car number, the number of the mobile phone activating the "panic button," and the driver's mobile phone number, according to the Colombian daily Vanguardia Liberal. The system would also allow passengers to call a taxi whose movements were subject to a satellite monitoring system, the broadcaster RCN reported on 4 June, adding that the Digital Plus system was devised through an agreement between some 2,000 taxi drivers, the Bogotá Municipality and the police. Secretary Jaramillo was cited as saying there were some 50,000 taxi drivers in Bogotá.

FARC guerrillas ambush prison vehicle in southern Colombia

Six prison officials were killed in an ambush in southern Colombia on 4 June, in an attack on a prison van attributed to the Third Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombian media reported. The attack occurred as prisoners were being taken to magistrates' courts in San Vicente del Caguán in the department of Caquetá; three prisoners were reported injured, of whom one later died, Caracol radio and Radio Santa Fé reported on 4 and 5 June. The head of the prisons authority Inpec General Gustavo Ricaurte denounced the "vile massacre" and particularly the execution of two injured guards by the assailants who approached the vehicle after the ambush, Radio Santa Fe reported. Separately, Colombia's other communist guerrilla force the National Liberation Army (ELN) stated its willingness to release "soon" a a Canadian hostage held for over four months, if the state and the Canadian mining firm Braewal Mining Corporation restore four mining permits to "communities of the south of" the Bolívar department in northern Colombia, Radio Santa Fé reported on 5 June, citing an ELN communiqué. The ELN stated that the "use of force" appeared to be the only way now to oblige the government to find a solution to the "problem of the ransacking of mining Titles." The permits in this case it stated belonged to the communities of Casa de Barro, Mina Seca, la Nevera and Las Nieves, Radio Santa Fé reported.