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Community radio journalist shot dead in Colombia

June 12, 2019

Gunmen in Colombia have shot dead a journalist working in an area where FARC dissidents and ELN rebels are fighting for control, authorities said Wednesday.

Libardo Montenegro was targeted as he walked to his fiancee’s home in Samaniego in the southwestern department of Narino, a local government source said.

Narino police chief William Pena said 42-year-old Montenegro was hit by several bullets in the attack on Monday.

Authorities gave no information about who might have carried out the killing, or if it was linked to Montenegro’s work.

National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels and FARC dissidents are fighting a turf war in the area since the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia signed a peace agreement with the government and disarmed in 2016.

Montenegro worked for a news program on Samaniego Estereo radio, one of a string of European Union-supported “Peace and Coexistence” community radio stations.

The EU’s ambassador to Colombia, Patricia Llombart, condemned the killing in a message on Twitter: “We hope that with his voice the effort of a community struggling to build peace and coexistence will not be extinguished.”

The state has failed to regain control of the area since FARC disbanded under the 2016 peace deal, leaving a vacuum for FARC dissidents and ELN rebels to exploit.

Vast swaths of territory in Narino are under coca cultivation for the illicit cocaine trade.

Since the beginning of the year, 14 people have been murdered in Samaniego, including local human rights defender Paula Rosero. according to the Narino government.

Since 2017, six journalists have been killed in Colombia, including three Ecuadorans kidnapped and murdered by FARC dissidents operating in Narino, according Foundation for Press Freedom, a Colombian media watchdog.


Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.