At least 13 people were killed on Friday in the Colombian city of Cali, the center of a nationwide demonstration, and the mass deaths could be linked to protests, Mayor Jorge Ivan Ospina said on Saturday.
Friday is the month of bloody protests across the country. The government has linked the deaths of 17 civilians and the deaths of two police officers to the protests that began on April 28, while rights groups say dozens more civilians have been killed by security forces.
The protests were originally meant to oppose a tax reform that has already been withdrawn. But after that it expanded further. The unrest has also pressured the government to pursue health reform and informed the resignation of former Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla.
“This fateful day means a significant number of deaths. However, we cannot say whether all the deaths of May 28 are fully connected and related to protests,” said Oss. Pina said in a video message.
Talks between the government and protest leaders, including trade union leaders forming a national strike committee, have been halted.
In addition to the 13 deaths reported by the Attorney General’s Office, 34 others were injured, Ospina added.
At least five people on Friday were directly linked to the protests, the city’s security secretary Carlos Rojas said on Saturday.
The cause of death is expected to be confirmed Sunday, a representative for the Attorney General’s office said.
Following the violence in Colombia’s third largest city on Friday, President Ivan Duque ordered military personnel to “Bringing the most power” to the Cali and Valle del Cauca provinces, which are the capital of the region.
Government and protest leaders achieve A “advance agreement” for ending the demonstrations on Monday. But organizers of the protest on Thursday said the government had not signed the deal and accused it of obstruction.
The government did not sign the accord because some protest leaders did not condemn the blockade. Talk will resume on Sunday.
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