BOGOTA – A dozen municipal council members have been killed so far this year in Colombia and more than 2,000 others have received threats from guerrillas and other illegal armed groups, officials said on Tuesday.
“Two councilors are kidnapped, attacks have been made against some 32 councilors and more than 2,000 councilors today have security measures known by the national government,” Colombian Federation of Councilors spokesman Fabio Estrada told Caracol Radio.
Colombia’s municipal council members must also deal with “a situation of neglect that affects their security,” Estrada said.
Over the weekend, a member of the city council in Villavicencio, the capital of Meta province, was killed during a robbery attempt, police said.
Councilman Alejandro Cepeda Baquero was gunned down Saturday on a street in downtown Villavicencio while shopping for spare parts for a motorcycle, Meta province police chief Col. Marco Tulio Avendaño said.
The 29-year-old Cepeda served as chairman of the Villavicencio City Council.
Last month, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas killed two city councilors in a town near Bogota but later released two other council members and a municipal employee taken prisoner during the attack unharmed.
The councilors were killed in Sumapaz, a town located 37 kilometers (23 miles) south of the capital.
Residents identified the killers of Liberal Party councilors Fanny Torres Ramirez and Fernando Morales as FARC guerrillas, Bogota Mayor Samuel Moreno said.
At least three heavily armed men showed up at a political meeting and asked for Sumapaz Mayor Reinere Jaramillo Chaverra, who was not at the gathering, Moreno said.
The guerrillas stayed for a while and left only after killing Torres Ramirez and Morales.
On Sept. 30, the chairman of the municipal council in El Castillo, a town in Meta, was killed by a gunman riding a horse, Colombian media reported.
German Herrera Rozo, a 41-year-old Liberal Party member, was visiting a friend in the hamlet of Medellin del Ariari, near El Castillo, when the gunman approached, shot him several times and rode off.
Many El Castillo council members have received death threats from the FARC, Colombia’s oldest and largest leftist guerrilla group, and several now work from Villavicencio.
In early September, suspected FARC guerrillas murdered Mariela Narvaez, a councilwoman in Hobo, which is located in the southern province of Huila.
Colombia’s municipal council members want the government to implement a special security plan to protect them.
More than 400 councilors have been murdered in Colombia in the past 10 years, and local officials blame the high number of killings on indifference on the part of the government and public toward the plight of municipal council members. EFE