Rights group warns of new ‘war’ in Colombia’s border zone

The void left by FARC is being filled by other smaller armed groups trying to gain control over drug trafficking routes. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 August 2019

Rights group warns of new ‘war’ in Colombia’s border zone

  • Colombia started facing new security challenges after the peace deal with the FARC guerrilla group in 2016
  • New armed groups moved to the area to fill the void FARC left

BOGOTA, Colombia: Human Rights Watch says illegal armed groups have forced 40,000 people to flee their homes as they fight for control of drug trafficking routes in Colombia’s Catatumbo region bordering Venezuela.
In a report being published Thursday, the watchdog details abuses committed against civilians by armed groups in the mountainous area. The situation reflects the security challenges that Colombia faces after the government signed a 2016 peace deal with the FARC guerrilla group, leaving a void that has been filled by smaller armed groups that have moved into Catatumbo and other remote areas.
The report says three groups are fighting over drug routes and coca plantations abandoned by FARC rebels in Catatumbo. It says the groups have expelled thousands from their homes, murdered community leaders and forcibly recruited children.


S.Korea official says US-N.Korea dialogue seen starting soon

Updated 37 min 48 sec ago

S.Korea official says US-N.Korea dialogue seen starting soon

  • South Korea will hold a meeting with Japan to discuss intelligence-sharing pact
  • The agreement will expire on August 24

SEOUL: The United States and North Korea are expected to reopen denuclearization talks soon and it would “go well,” a senior South Korean official said on Thursday, boosting hopes for progress in negotiations after a prolonged stalemate.
South Korea’s deputy national security adviser Kim Hyun-chong gave his upbeat assessment after meeting with US envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun in Seoul.
“My impression was that North Korea and the United States would carry out dialogue soon, and it would go well,” Kim told reporters after the one-hour meeting, without elaborating.
Working-level talks between the United States and North Korea have yet to restart since they were stalled by the failed second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in February.
Trump and Kim met again in June at the inter-Korean border and agreed to reopen negotiations.
The South Korean official also said that South Korea’s presidential National Security Council will convene later on Thursday to review an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, that Seoul had threatened to scrap amid a spiralling diplomatic and trade spat.
The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) could expire on Saturday if either side decides not to roll it over.
According to Kim, the South Korean official, Biegun raised the issue, which has worried Washington as the accord is instrumental in three-way efforts to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
“I’ve told him we’ll carefully examine it and make a decision in a way that serves our national interest,” the South Korean deputy national security adviser said.