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Local Communist Leaders Arrested in Massacre Probe

February 15, 1994

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Security forces arrested a mayor and congressional candidate on Monday in connection with the massacre of 35 people last month in northwest Colombia.

The massacre occurred during a street party in an impoverished neighborhood considered a stronghold of the Hope, Peace and Freedom party (EPL), which was founded by former guerrillas.

Their former comrades-in-arms, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), have been attacking EPL members, considering them traitors because they abandoned the armed struggle and formed a party which competes with the rebel-backed Communist and Patriotic Union parties.

Both men arrested Monday were Communists: Apartado Mayor Nelson Campo and Jose Antonio Lopez, a congressional candidate. No charges were announced against the two, who were being held at an army base pending further investigation.

Regional Communist Party officials ordered their followers to hold a strike to protest the arrests.

The Jan. 23 massacre in Apartado, 300 miles northwest of Bogota, was the bloodiest in Colombia in five years.

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