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Colombia violence claims life of another priest

A priest who worked for peace in Colombia's Medellin area was killed in cold blood on Friday by members of a militia group.

Fr José Luis Arroyave Restrepo had mediated a conflict among the residents of the Commune No. 13 of west Medellin and directed neighbourhood development programs. He was the fourth Church figure murdered this year in Colombia. One media report listed his age as 49.

Fr Arroyave was killed in a section of St. Xavier, where he went to distribute parish leaflets. Witnesses reported that a young man with a sawed-off shotgun went up to a private van in which the priest was traveling and shot him.

The Colombia office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights condemned the crime and reminded the state that "its obligations of respect and guarantee of human rights recognised by international pacts impose on it the duty to investigate, judge and punish those responsible for the crime."

The conflict between the paramilitary and militiamen of the area has worsened this year; 373 deaths have occurred since January.

At the request of the mayor's office, Fr Arroyave had served as a liaison with armed groups and worked with public officials to tackle the educational problems resulting from the conflict.

Violence has claimed the lives of other Catholic Church figures in Colombia. Archbishop Isaías Duarte of Cali was killed last March, after officiating at a number of weddings. Sister Marta Inés Vélez Serna, directress of a home for the elderly and poor in Mogotes, was shot to death in July.

Last April, a group of gunmen killed Fr Juan Ramón Núñez while he was celebrating Mass in his parish in the department of Huila.

Asesinan a sacerdote en Medellín (El Tiempo, in Spanish)
Priest killed in Colombia (1/7/02)
Nun murdered at shelter home in Colombia (18/7/02)
Pope condemns attack on Colombian church (8/5/02)
Missionary kidnapped in Colombia (27/9/01)


24 Sep 2002