Colombian Army’s Kill Orders Put Civilians at Risk, Officers Say by Nicholas Casey – New York Times
The head of Colombia’s army, frustrated by the nation’s faltering efforts to secure peace, has ordered his troops to double the number of criminals and militants they kill, capture or force to surrender in battle — and possibly accept higher civilian casualties in the process, according to written orders and interviews with senior officers.
At the start of the year, Colombian generals and colonels were assembled and told to sign a written pledge to step up attacks. Daily internal presentations now show the number of days that brigades have gone without combat, and commanders are berated when they don’t carry out assaults frequently enough, the officers said.
One order causing particular worry instructs soldiers not to “demand perfection” in carrying out deadly attacks, even if significant questions remain about the targets they are striking. Some officers say that order has instructed them to lower their standards for protecting innocent civilians from getting killed, and that it has already led to suspicious or unnecessary deaths.
The military tried a similar strategy to defeat Colombia’s rebel and paramilitary groups in the mid-2000s, before a landmark peace deal was signed to end decades of conflict.
But the tactics caused a national outrage when it emerged that soldiers, aiming to meet their quotas, engaged in widespread killings and disappearances of civilians.
Now, another incarnation of the policy is being pushed by the new government against the country’s remaining criminal, guerrilla and paramilitary groups, according to orders reviewed by The New York Times and three senior officers who spoke about them...