Friday, December 9, 2022

    Clashes in Colombia as protests against police go into second day


    New protests erupted in Colombia on Thursday in reaction to two police officers allegedly killing a man in Bogota, with demonstrators clashing with police in several cities.

    Protesters attacked police posts and banks, threw stones and petrol bombs, burned tyres and garbage containers and blocked roads in the Bogota area, where previous demonstrations were reported to have claimed 10 lives.

    Violence also broke out in Medellin, Cali and half a dozen other cities.

    Several people were reported to have been injured and dozens arrested.

    The unrest started on Wednesday after the publication of a video in which two police officers were seen pinning lawyer Javier Ordonez to the ground and shocking him with a stun pistol the night before.

    Ordonez, whom the officers accused of violating coronavirus restrictions by drinking in the street with his friends, was then taken to a police post and allegedly beaten, leading to his death.

    The case unleashed a wave of unrest which claimed seven lives in Bogota and three in the nearby municipality of Soacha, according to three television channels.

    Some of the victims were passers-by hit by stray bullets.

    Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez said more than 390 civilians and police officers were injured in the capital.

    She accused police of using firearms indiscriminately and without authorization.

    President Ivan Duque called for calm, and warned against stigmatising the entire police force, pledging a rapid investigation into Ordonez’s death.

    Defence Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo attributed the violence to a social media movement trying to tarnish the reputation of police and inciting violence.

    Police earlier said protesters had attacked more than 50 police posts, setting many of them on fire, in several cities.

    Buses were burned, bus stations and banks attacked and shops looted, leaving some urban areas looking like war zones.

    Holmes Trujillo announced that more than 1,500 police and soldiers would be dispatched to boost security in Bogota.

    The city authorities proposed a reform of the police force, which would include new rules on the use of stun pistols.

    Several people were killed in incidents with police in the Bogota area this and last year, according to reports.

    The best-known case was that of Dilan Cruz, a young man hit by a police projectile during anti-government protests in November. (dpa/NAN)

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