According to Semana Magazine, the bodies of the young people showed “blows, scratches on their arms, stab wounds to the neck and shots to the head.”
Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo announced that the military will be sent out to support local police forces, and authorities are offering a reward of 200 million Colombian pesos (approximately $53,000) for information leading to the arrest of the killers.
In their message, the Colombian bishops said these massacres are compounded by “threats to individuals and communities, the murders of community leaders and former FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla fighters, and armed confrontations for the control of drug trafficking routes.”
The bishops underscored that the fundamental right to life is sacred and inviolable, stressing that murder is an extremely grave crime against individual and society.
They lamented that the local population has suffered from “extreme poverty, the lack of opportunities and the violation of their fundamental rights” due to the surge in violence.
The bishops’ conference joined Pope Francis' call for a definitive end to the violence and confrontations “that aggravate the humanitarian crisis the country is experiencing due to the pandemic.”
“We call on the Colombian people once again to commit themselves, with unity and courage, to the defense of life, the task of reconciliation and peace” and to work for a common way forward for the country, they said.
Finally, the bishops urged the government to “make greater efforts to ensure effective protection and to fully attend to the communities hardest hit by the consequences of violence, as well as to continue to make progress in the implementation of the Peace Accords.”
The peace accords were finalized in November 2016, ending a 52-year civil war between the government and the Marxist FARC rebels. Since 1964, as many as 260,000 people were killed and millions displaced in the conflict.
"We ask the Catholic community to increase their prayers so that God will grant our country the inestimable gift of peace and that we all may be artisans of reconciliation," the bishops concluded.
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.