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Gunmen Slay Female Prosecutor Investigating Massacre of Peasants

July 25, 1990

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Three assailants on Tuesday fatally shot a government prosecutor who was investigating the massacre of 42 peasants in northern Colombia, police said.

Maria Esther Restrepo, 52, the regional attorney general, was shot to death along with her police bodyguard as she left her office in the banana-growing region of Uraba, police operations director Gen. Octavio Vargas told reporters.

Vargas said the three unidentified gunmen escaped.

Ms. Restrepo had been investigating the massacre of 42 peasants earlier this year in the northern state of Cordoba. The peasants were abduced from Uraba and later found slain in Cordoba.

Right-wing paramilitary death squads financed by drug traffickers have been implicated in this and other massacres in the countryside.

Meanwhile, about 60 leftist rebels tried to take over a police station in La Union in southern Colombia, near the border with Ecuador, army press spokesman Col. Eduardo Arevalo said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

During the fighting, the guerrillas killed two police officers, Arevalo said.

The rebels, who belong to the National Liberation Army and the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia, were later driven out of the town. There were no rebel casualties, Arevalo said.

The two guerrilla groups have refused to participate in peace negotiations with the government. Most other leftist insurgent groups have either signed peace treaties or are in the process of doing so.

Speaking to reporters earlier Tuesday, Gen. Vargas said the massive search for cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar is still under way in central Colombia.

More than 2,000 security troops began searching for Escobar, reputed leader of the Medellin cocaine cartel, almost three weeks ago after police were tipped off that the drug lord was hiding out in the Magdalena Medio region.

Escobar has been blamed for sponsoring terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds of Colombians.

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