Experts from the campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) have revealed that ruthless Colombian cartels are executing those who break their coronavirus lockdown rules.
Armed groups have introduced their own bloody system of “justice” and quarantine in regions where infection rates are out of control.
According to reports, to date, a least nine people have been killed for either refusing to adhere to the hardline restrictions or for daring to speak out against them.
The brutal attacks come as Covid-19 cases have been surging across the South American country after relatively low figures at the start of the pandemic.
As of Wednesday, there were 165,169 confirmed cases in Colombia and 5,814 deaths.
Community leader Edison Leon was murdered after revealing a group called ‘La Mafia’ were forcing locals to staff a virus checkpoint in the region of Putumayo.
‘I am not willing to continue sending my people to death,’ he wrote to the local authorities just days before he was killed.
In another shocking case, three civilians were killed and four injured after they were gunned down while in a public park in the south of Colombia.
In another incident, two migrants from Venezuela were killed while drinking at a telephone repair shop. It’s believed both the group attacks were sparked by people accused of breaking cartel quarantine rules.
According to HRW’s findings, the restrictions have been imposed in at least 11 of Colombia’s 32 states – Arauca, Bolívar, Caquetá, Cauca, Chocó, Córdoba, Guaviare, Huila, Nariño, Norte de Santander and Putumayo.
In at least five, the gun-toting groups stand accused of using violence to enforce their rules.
In another four locals were threatened with bloody attacks, it’s claimed.