Two Arhuaco children killed by army shells

October 28, 2005

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Two Arhuaco children have been killed after playing with unexploded shells left by the Colombian army.

The bodies of Jorge Luis Izquierdo Torres (aged 14) and his younger sister Zenaida Estela Izquierdo Torres (aged 10) were found by their parents after hearing an explosion, in the community of Yeiwin. The army had just left the community after staying there for two days.

The Arhuaco live with two other tribes, the Kogi and Arsario, on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in northern Colombia. Since the 1980s the Sierra Nevada has been a site of frequent conflict between the army, left-wing guerrillas and paramilitary armies, and many Indians have been killed in the crossfire.

No-one has been convicted in connection with any of the numerous killings of the Sierra Nevada Indians, the most shocking of which was the 1990 assassinations of the senior Arhuaco leaders Luis Napoleón Torres, Hugues Chaparro and Angel María Torres.

The Arhuaco and the neighbouring tribes see themselves as the ‘older brothers' of humanity, referring to all other peoples as the ‘younger brothers'

Sierra Nevada Indians