Indigenous Families Caught In Warring Cartel Crossfire

Story ByMaja Mishevksa, Sub EditorMarija StojkoskaAgencyNewsflash


This is the moment an indigenous tribe in Colombia hides in the jungle as machine gun fire can be heard in the background after their community was caught in the crossfire of two warring cartels.

The Embera, also known in historical literature as the Choco or Katio Indians, are an indigenous people of Colombia and Panama.

A community in the municipality of Bojaya in the north-western Colombian department of Choco, bordering with Panama, was reportedly caught in the crossfire of an armed confrontation between the revolutionary left-wing armed group the National Liberation Army (ELN) and members of the Clan del Golfo.

The ELN is involved in the Colombian conflict which has been ongoing since 1964 and involved the government and paramilitary forces.

Bojaya was the scene of a massacre in 2002 when Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas seized the town in an attempt to take control of the Atrato River region from AUC paramilitaries and 119 residents were killed.

A spokesperson for the indigenous council in the region said: “We ask for urgent humanitarian action to protect the Embera people living in the department of Choco.”

According to local media, confrontations between the two armed groups resulted in 10 grenades being detonated in the village of Nueva Jerusalen where 37 families were based.

The Embera community is trapped in the crossfire and their river boats were previously seized by cartel members, according to reports.

They were preparing to self-isolate during the quarantine measures imposed by the Colombian government on 25th March, but the cartel fighting forced them to flee their homes to hide in the jungle.

The indigenous council spokesperson said: “Many families are still trapped in the crossfire, only 37 families managed to escape the community of La Pinita.”

Indeed, 928 people in nearby communities are also trapped by the fighting, according to reports.

Earlier this year, President Ivan Duque visited the municipality of Bojaya and promised to increase the military presence in the area as well as invest in social programmes.

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