Colombian soldiers accused of killing 5 civilians

Colombia's attorney general on Wednesday charged seven soldiers in the 2004 killing of five members of a peasant family, including three teenagers and a six-month-old baby. The soldiers were arrested in 2005 and have confessed to gunning down the family, but insist they mistook them for leftist rebels during a nighttime patrol in a guerrilla stronghold near Cajamarca, 150 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of the capital.

The soldiers said they ordered the civilians to surrender and opened fire when they started to run away. Colombians have followed closely the case that called attention to the brutal methods used by the military in its pursuit of armed insurgents who've been trying to overthrow the government for four decades.

The conflict kills more than 3,000 people every year, many of them civilians. President Alvaro Uribe first backed the military's claim that heavy fog was to blame for poor visibility when apologizing for the crime in 2004.

But an investigation into the case by forensic experts later concluded the soldiers killed the peasants from a very short distance, and not from more than 20 meters (44-feet) away as the soldiers claimed, reports the AP. I.L.

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