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11 Killed in Colombian Massacre

December 9, 1998

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Suspected rightist paramilitary gunmen killed 11 people in a pre-dawn massacre Tuesday near Colombia’s border with Venezuela, police reported.

The killings in Villanueva, a town in Guajira state 400 miles northeast of Bogota, occurred less than a week after the top paramilitary leaders pledged to observe a three-week Christmas and New Year’s cease-fire beginning Dec. 20.

Men in military-style uniforms arrived in the town at 4:00 a.m. carrying lists of suspected leftist guerrilla collaborators, Guajira police officer Jose Ocampo told The Associated Press. The assailants dragged the accused men from their homes and shot them with pistols and automatic rifles, Ocampo said.

Most of the dead were adults. However, a hospital worker, Tulia Isabel Onate, said in an interview on Radionet radio that two of the victims were teen-agers. Four people were reported injured, although not seriously.

Paramilitary groups and rebels vie for control all across Colombia, often attacking civilians they suspect of sympathizing with the other side.

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