After a bloody Friday that left more than a dozen dead in the Colombian city of Cali, the authorities of the South American country announced on Monday an investigation into 10 police officers who authorized civilians to shoot at demonstrators.
Cali has become the epicenter of the protests, and the city’s mayor, Jorge Iván Ospina, reported that more than a dozen violent deaths took place on Friday, according to Reuters. He said gunmen were shooting at protesters in front of the police. An agent from the attorney general’s office who was not on duty was lynched after he was seen shooting protesters, according to several reports.
Colombian President Iván Duque on Saturday ordered the deployment of more than 1,000 troops to Cali to help secure the area.
An investigation has been opened to identify those who broke the law, according to General Jorge Luis Vargas, director of the national police.
For more than a month, Colombia has been rocked by anti-government protests that have led to an increase in the death toll. The protests were first sparked by the announcement of a tax hike that was quickly removed, but the protests now include anger over rising poverty, inequality and police violence.
The government has linked 20 deaths to the protests, but human rights organizations say the death toll is much higher and dozens of protesters have been killed by security forces.
Human Rights Watch said it has “credible reports” on 63 deaths. In an interview with a German broadcaster, Jose Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch, said the situation in Cali could deteriorate with the deployment of the army and said Colombian security forces have “A very poor record when it comes to the use of force.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Sunday called on those responsible for the violence and deaths in Colombia to account, Reuters reported.
“It is essential that all those allegedly involved in injury or death, including state officials, are investigated promptly, effectively, independently, impartially and transparently and that those responsible are held accountable. She said.
Negotiations between the government and protest leaders have stalled and a national strike committee called for more protests on Wednesday.
To pursue NBC Latino at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.