Europeans Targeted in Colombia, British-Trained Soldiers Allegedly Involved
News from Colombia |
on: Friday, 24 July 2009
A Dutch citizen has been murdered in the northern Colombian city of Barranquilla after two men on a motorcycle drove by the house in which he was staying and shot him in the head. The killing follows an incident last month in which a German citizen was robbed by soldiers believed to be members of the notorious British-trained High Mountain Battalion of the Colombian Army. The robbery took place close to a remote military base, known as 'La Australia', where British advisers allegedly provide secret training to counterinsurgency troops.
Dutch citizen Adriaan Charles Alexander, 32, was shot dead on July 22nd whilst visiting his Colombian girlfriend according to friends of the victim though the motive for the killing is not clear given that he had only been in the country for three days and did not know anyone. Theft, the most usual reason for attacks on foreigners in Colombia, has been ruled out as a motive because the killers fled the scene immediately after shooting Mr Alexander, who worked as a teacher on the Caribbean island of Curacao.
In the earlier incident German citizen Friedrich Heinrich, 46, was robbed by knife-wielding soldiers whilst hiking in the Sumapaz region outside the Colombian capital Bogota in early June. The men, who said that they would kill him if he tried to look at their faces, "were dressed in camouflage of a colour between blue, green and gray and wore balaclavas" according to Mr Heinrich who added that the men spoke like soldiers and searched him in a professional manner.
After being robbed of his cell phone, digital camera and several other items Mr Heinrich was allowed to leave whereupon he returned to his car. However, he was soon stopped at a military roadblock outside of the 'Australia' military base a mile or so from where the incident took place and was astonished to discover that the troops there were not interested in hearing his complaint or helping him. He also asked the Army to warn some other hikers who had passed him earlier in the day though they declined to do so.
Those familiar with the region say that the only troops that could have been involved in the robbery are from the notorious High Mountain Battalion of the Colombian Army which has been implicated in several murders and other attacks in Sumapaz. Troops of the Battalion, which specialises in counter-insurgency operations and who have received classified British military assistance, wear uniforms of the type described by Mr Heinrich and are known to be stationed around the 'Australia' base – the location, according to sources in the Colombian Ministry of Defence, of much of the British training.
For previous articles relating to the activities of the High Mountain Battalions see:
June 2008 Blood on Britain's Hands