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  HOME | Colombia (Click here for more)

Husband of Colombia Indian Leader Killed by Army
17 shots fired at vehicle.

BOGOTA -- The husband of Ayda Quilcue, leader of a recent protest march by Colombia's indigenous peoples, died Tuesday after being shot by soldiers on a road in a southwestern province.

Edwin Legarda died at the hospital in the city of Popayan, where he had been rushed after the shooting that occurred between the towns of Inza and Totoro in Cauca province.

"Unfortunately he died," said Gen. Justo Eliseo Peņa, commander of the Colombian army's 3rd Division.

The general told the press at divisional headquarters in Cali that Legarda was traveling early Tuesday in a vehicle that failed to obey soldiers' order to stop.

"The soldiers made a mistake and, unfortunately, fired," Peņa said before traveling to the area to investigate the incident, which had previously been denounced in Bogota by the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, or ONIC.

At the time of the attack, Legarda was driving an SUV that was owned by the CRIC Cauca Indian council and assigned to his wife, who was not inside the vehicle.

One of the groups affiliated with CRIC said that a total of 17 shots were fired and that they entered through the windshield and the sides of the vehicle.

It was "a criminal attack against (Quilcue's) vehicle," the group said in a statement, citing witnesses who said there was no checkpoint on the road and no order to stop was issued by the troops.

Legarda, who died during emergency surgery, was struck by three gunshots.

"I think the attack was (targeting) me," Ayda Quilcue told Bogota's Caracol Radio. She and other CRIC leaders organized a late-year march by Indians in southwestern Colombia to Bogota to demand the return of ancestral lands and an end to the violence afflicting their communities.

Like other members of the CRIC's leadership, Quilcue has received death threats from Colombia's right-wing militias, according to ONIC chairman Luis Evelis Andrade.

He said the threats against the Indian peoples of southwestern Colombia have increased since the march in October and November due to accusations made against the ethnic minority by top officials in rightist President Alvaro Uribe's government.

The threats have appeared in pamphlets apparently distributed by the paramilitaries, said Andrade, who called on the government to investigate and prosecute those responsible.



 

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