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Colombian rights activist killed every three days, says ombudsman

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Bogota (AFP)

A human rights activist is killed every three days in Colombia despite the peace accord signed with FARC rebels, the country's ombudsman has said.

Carlos Alfonso Negret said that between January 1, 2016 and June 30 this year "311 Colombian citizens who dedicated their lives to being social leaders and defenders of human rights" have been killed.

The news comes as Colombia looks to end the final armed conflict in South America against the National Liberation Army (ELN), accused by local authorities of being behind a roadside bomb that injured eight soldiers, two seriously, in the country's lawless southwest on Wednesday.

Since the 2016 peace deal with left-wing FARC guerillas, the Marxist ELN remains the last organized group fighting against the government, which has launched military operations in the dense jungle of its southwest to try to root out the rebels.

The ombudsman said most of the murders were committed in areas beset by drug smuggling and illegal mining, but didn't identify the perpetrators.

"We've already said enough is enough, no more social leaders assassinated in Colombia because we want peace and tranquility," added Negret in an audio recording shared with journalists on Wednesday.

Interior minister Guillermo Rivera announced on Twitter that a committee would be called "in the coming days" to evaluate methods of protection.

Colombia, the world's primary producer of cocaine, has endured a 50-year multifaceted armed conflict involving Marxist guerrillas, paramilitary groups, drug gangs and state security agencies, in which more than eight million people have been killed, disappeared or displaced.

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