Colombian drug lords threaten to renew war on government

January 26, 1991|By Ana Arana | Ana Arana,Special to The Sun

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's drug lords declared in a communique a resumption of their war against the government yesterday and promised to execute two of four prominent Colombians they hold captive.

The communique came the same day Diana Turbay, a prominent journalist and daughter of a former president, died at a Medellin hospital after undergoing surgery for wounds suffered during a police rescue mission. She had been kidnapped by the traffickers five months ago.

The police action and Ms. Turbay's death appear to threaten the DTC peace process in Colombia between powerful drug traffickers and the government of President Cesar Gaviria Trujillo, a process which had resulted in the surrender of top traffickers Fabio and Luis Ochoa.

Ms. Turbay, 38, daughter of former President Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala, died after undergoing surgery in Medellin where she was taken yesterday afternoon. She was shot during a massive police operation at a remote farm six miles north of the city, where she was being held by henchmen of the Medellin cartel.

Police reports said she was shot in the back by her captors as she ran away from the house. The police operation was carried out by 120 special agents, airlifted by helicopter to the hilly, remote area.

Freed unharmed was television soundman Richard Becerra, who was being held at the same house. Mr. Becerra was not allowed to give statements to the press until he was debriefed by police.

The two were among five people kidnapped Aug. 30. Ms. Turbay was editor of the weekly Hoy por Hoy (Day by Day).

In their communique, read over local radio stations, the Extraditables, as the drug traffickers call themselves, pledged to begin military actions against the government in response to "continuing human rights violations" committed by the Colombian police forces against suspected traffickers.

The traffickers announcement caused great concern among government officials. "The attorney general's office is investigating the charges of human rights abuses. Let's not start the war," said Juan Guillermo Sepulveda, regional attorney general for the department of Antioquia.

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