[JURIST] The number of extrajudicial killings in Colombia [JURIST news archive] at the hands of the Colombian military has almost doubled since 1997, according to a new report [related report, in Spanish] by a international conglomerate of human rights workers. The International Observation Mission on Extrajudicial Executions and Impunity in Colombia [advocacy website, in Spanish] found there have been approximately 950 documented illegal killings in the last five years, compared with approximately 575 in the five years previous. The figures were gathered from testimony of victims' family members, and an analysis of the 670 deaths currently being investigated by Colombia's attorney general. The report also claims that soldiers often plant guerrilla gear on their victims to receive credit for killing rebels in combat.
Colombian Deputy Defense Minister Sergio Jaramillo told Reuters that the the number of alleged extrajudicial killings may be inflated by rebel groups ordering the families of their slain members to claim their relatives were civilians. Jaramillo also promised that there will be an investigation into the report's findings, and would act to prevent civilian deaths. Increases in civilian deaths in Colombia have previously been reported [PDF text] by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website]. Reuters has more. AP has additional coverage. El Espectador has local coverage, in Spanish.