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Caller Says Former Presidential Candidate Was Killed By Kidnappers

May 30, 1988

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ A prominent newspaper editor who was kidnapped by four gunmen died Monday from wounds sustained during his abduction, according a man who identified himself as one of the gunmen.

The kidnapping came during a week of violence that left scores dead and wounded. The army and government officials said 50 people died during clashes between leftist guerrillas and government security forces.

Alvaro Gomez, 69, who twice ran for president, was kidnapped Sunday as he walked away from a Bogota church where he had attended Mass. The gunmen killed Gomez’s only bodyguard with a hail of machine gun fire.

A man told the Bogota radio station Todelar on Monday that Gomez had died and that authorities would be told soon where to find his body.

The man sounded like the same one who called the radio station twice on Sunday.

In the first telephone call, an anonymous man said he was one of the kidnappers, and then the voice of Gomez was heard saying: ″Oh, Oh, I’m dying.″

Gomez’s wife and daughter said that they recognized Gomez’s voice. They asked the kidnappers to get medical attention for Gomez.

An announcer at the station said on the air Sunday that the first phone call must have been a joke. But five minutes later, the man claiming to be the kidnapper called back and assured the announced that the next voice he would hear was that of Gomez.

Someone was heard speakly softly in apparent agony: ″I’m wounded. Don’t put me in the news. I’m wounded. I’m wounded. I’ve been shot. Twice.″

Gomez was editor of the Bogota morning daily El Siglo.

The phrase ″Don’t put me in the news″ is one that Gomez used frequently with colleagues when he didn’t want them to do a story on him.

Gomez, the son of former President Laureano Gomez, was the second ranking official of the Conservative Party after former President Misael Pastrana.

Gomez’s son, Mauricio Gomez, has been in Madrid for a year after fleeing Colombia because of a death threat by apparent drug traffickers.

In another development, an estimated 6,000 peasants reportedly refused on Monday to obey army orders to disperse after a clash between army troops and people who staged a protest march.

An exchange of gunfire on Sunday between army troops and marchers left 13 people dead and 40 wounded, Mayor German Obando of the town of San Vicente said in a broadcast interview with the Bogota radio station Caracol.

Nine peasants, an army colonel, a captain and two soldiers were killed, Obando said. Thirty-four peasants and six soldiers were wounded, he said.

Obando said that after the clash the army ordered the farmers to disperse and go back home, but that so far the peasants were continuing their march toward the northeastern city of Bucaramanga.

Leftist guerrillas in the ranks of the peasants had opened fire on army troops who were trying to talk the peasants into going back home, Gov. Eduardo Camacho said in a broadcast interview Monday with the Bogota radio station RCN.

Camacho is governor of the state of Santander, which includes San Vicente, a town about 160 miles north of the capital of Bogota.

The peasants are demanding land reform and government action to halt right- wing death squads who have killed more than 800 people in the last three years.

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