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Colombia official says troops alone will not stop killings

Separate attacks over the last two weeks in regions contested by groups involved with drug trafficking have sparked anger among Colombians and criticism from human rights organizations.

Two attacks in Narino province left a total of 14 dead, while others in Cauca, Arauca and other areas registered death tolls of six, five or lower.

The areas where the killings have taken place have drug trafficking and illegal mining in common, Rafael Guarin, presidential adviser for security, told journalists in a video event. They also share a weak state presence going back decades, he said.

Accelerating development plans in high-violence areas is already part of government policy, political analysts have said.

Drug trafficking has long fuelled Colombia’s decades-long internal conflict, which has killed more than 260,000 and displaced millions.

Fighting over lucrative drug and illegal mining territory has accelerated in some parts of the country since the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels demobilized under a 2016 peace deal, leaving areas uncontrolled.

The leftist guerrilla group the National Liberation Army, former members of the FARC who reject the peace accord, criminal groups composed of former right-wing paramilitaries and drugs gangs are all involved in trafficking and illegal mining.

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