British Halo Trust team attacked by FARC dissidents in Colombia

FARC dissidents caused a British NGO doing humanitarian mine clearance in Colombia’s most mine-polluted region to stop operating in the area after torching a vehicle used by four of its staff members, according to international Spanish news agency EFE.

Some 15 men from dissident FARC group, Front 40, stopped and torched the vehicle in the municipality of Uribe after forcing the four staff members of The Halo Trust to dismount, according to a statement (in Spanish) from the Descontamina Colombia, a government body. The Halo Trust employees are back in an undisclosed base of operations, according to the statement.

The statement says the men, who were armed with rifles, threatened The Halo Trust’s personnel and informed them that they did not want the organization in the area.

The Halo Trust was created in 1998 to help rid Afghanistan of thousands of mines that had been planted in the country over many years. It has been active in various Colombian regions since 2013.

The director of Descontamina Colombia, Sergio Bueno Aguirre, denounced the incident. He said it not only puts at risk the de-mining operations taking place all over the country, but also stops humanitarian activities that benefit communities.

He added: “The humanitarian de-mining operations of the organization in that part of the country have been suspended”.

Meta has the highest estimated number of anti-personnel mines in Colombia, with 8.4 million contaminated square meters, and the second highest number of victims – 1,136 people, according to Descontamina Colombia’s statement (in Spanish).

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