(Bogota) At least two people died and a police officer was shot and wounded during clashes between the police and demonstrators in Cali, in southwestern Colombia, shaken since the end of April by a wave of social protest which left at least 61 dead.
Posted on June 5, 2021 at 4:17 p.m.
France Media Agency
According to the authorities, the facts unfolded Friday evening when police officers were attacked by armed men who wanted to erect a roadblock on an axis leading to Colombia’s third largest city.
“A policeman was wounded (by gunshot) in the leg […] we repelled this attack and, in the early hours of the morning, we confirmed the deaths of two citizens at the scene, ”said Cali police commander General Juan Leon.
Three other civilians were injured, one of them by gunfire, Leon added. Videos posted on social media show civilians squatting as gunshots ring out.
On Twitter, the Minister of Defense, Diego Molano, denounced “the violence which wounded four police officers, one of whom was shot” and released a video showing civilians shooting at the police from a barricade.
The clashes took place in the Paso del Comercio area, where demonstrators have erected a roadblock since April 28, when the protest began.
Social sling in this country of 50 million people first erupted against a tax reform project to increase VAT and broaden the income tax base, launched by the government of conservative President Ivan Duque in the midst of a pandemic.
The uprising, which results in more or less intense and regular demonstrations, as well as road blockages, subsequently turned into a movement denouncing police repression and calls for more social justice.
The roadblocks are the subject of a standoff between the government and the National Strike Committee, initiator of the mobilization and the most visible front of the protest, in talks since May 7. Negotiations are due to resume on Sunday.
The two new victims recorded in Cali bring to 61 the number of people who have been killed since the start of the dispute, including 59 civilians and two police officers, according to an AFP count based on official figures.
According to the prosecution, at least 20 deaths are directly linked to the protests.
Human rights NGO Human Rights Watch says it has “credible allegations” of 67 deaths, including 32 “related to the protests.”