Militia behead 20 Colombian villagers

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The Independent US

Evidence of further vicious bloodletting in Colombia emerged yesterday as government negotiators and the largest rebel group took their search for an end to three decades of guerrilla war to Spain.

Evidence of further vicious bloodletting in Colombia emerged yesterday as government negotiators and the largest rebel group took their search for an end to three decades of guerrilla war to Spain.

Right-wing militia were said to have beheaded more than 20 unarmed villagers near the northern jungle town of Ovejas at the weekend. At least 80 people fled before government troops arrived on Sunday night. At least 13 people died in further battles between paramilitaries and guerrillas and five unarmed labourers were killed in a northern rebel stronghold. A farmer who watched uniformed men with rifles drag his brother from a shack and hack off his head with a machete, said: "This time they didn't fire a single shot. They beheaded everyone."

Santander Losada, the regional head of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia militia group, said that his commandoes had killed 47 members of the largest rebel band, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc). Villagers said that the killings were indiscriminate.

Meanwhile, representatives of President Andres Pastrana and Farc were in Spain taking part in peace talks.

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