Loading
Colombia recalls massacre of 78 civilians killed by rebel group
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- On May 2, 2002, Colombian rebels known as the FARC massacred 78 people – including 48 children, several pregnant women and a newborn – in what's known as the worst assault by the Marxist group on civilians in the last decade.

During the attack, FARC soldiers and militia troops engaged in a firefight in the streets of Bojaya, some 380 kilometers northeast of the capital city of Bogota. Around 400 civilians, mostly women and children, sought refuge in the local St. Paul the Apostle parish.

Ten years after the tragedy, newspaper El Colombiano interviewed Father Antun Ramos, who saved dozens from death, and Sister Maria del Carmen, who helped those in the parish who were wounded.

Church pastor, Fr. Ramos, helped keep the people calm by telling them stories and praying with them.

“I thought of the movie, Life is Beautiful, in which a father teaches his son that the war is a game, and I tried to apply that.  I told them to join hands and to pray. We shared some stories, and for a time, they forgot about the bullets that were flying around them,” the priest recalled.

“But the stories were interrupted by the exploding rockets launched from the other side of town,” El Colombiano reported. “The first landed on a home at 10am. The second landed behind the school but did not explode.”

“Outside, one of the guerrillas warned the commander leading the attack, who went by the alias ‘Silver,’ that the militias were on the move and that there were people in the church.” 

But “Silver” ignored him and ordered the other rocket to be fired, according to the paper. At 11am, it crashed through the roof the church and exploded, killing 78 people, including 48 children.

Fr. Antun recalled that after the explosion, “I told everyone to leave because they were going to kill us all. One woman said they would leave if I went out first, so I held a white flag and went out first. They shouted that they were civilians as they came out, and the rebels held their fire.”

According to El Colombiano, guerrillas fired a fourth rocket that landed behind the home of the Augustinian Missionary Sisters, which the militias tried to enter.

“With her tiny body and small arms, Sister Maria del Carmen Garzon mustered the strength she didn’t have and blocked the door together with the other sisters,” the paper said.

“From inside they told the militia fighters they could not come in, 'because we had 130 civilians who were not a part of the conflict and that would be endangered.'”

When she returned to the hallway, the nun found several people dying on the floor.

“We began to care for them,” Sister Maria del Carmen recalled. “We did what we could because the people were running from one end to the other trying to dodge the bullets that were flying through the air. It was very hard. We felt helpless knowing that so many people needed aid.”

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
Oct
20

Liturgical Calendar

October 20, 2014

Monday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 12:13-21

Gospel
Date
10/20/14
10/19/14
10/18/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Eph 2: 1-10
Gospel:: Lk 12: 13-21

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
10/20/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 12:13-21

Homily
Date
10/20/14
10/19/14
10/18/14