Colombia: 120 civil leaders killed in just over year

Bogota (AFP) - A total of 120 civil leaders have been killed in Colombia in the past 14 months, the state human rights watchdog said Friday, fueling concerns for a delicate peace process.

The watchdog counted "120 homicides of human rights activists and civil leaders, as well as 33 attempted killings and 27 attacks" on such victims, its chief Carlos Negret told a news conference.

President Juan Manuel Santos has warned that fresh violence could destabilize the current demobilization of the leftist FARC rebels under a historic peace accord.

He signed the deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and pushed it through the legislature in December, defying criticism from conservative rivals.

In the following weeks, reports emerged of killings of local civil campaigners by unidentified groups in conflict areas.

Among them was Porfirio Jaramillo, leader of a group demanding rural land restitution in the northwestern Antioquia region, said the Victims' Unit, a state conflict resolution body.

Land rights were at the heart of the conflict that pitted the Marxist FARC against Colombian state forces since 1964.

The peace agreement reconciles the two main rival forces in the war, but there are fears of score-settling between renegade players in the multi-sided conflict.

As well as leftist rebels and state forces, the conflict drew in right-wing paramilitaries backed by landowners.

They were supposedly disbanded in the 2000s but the FARC and other groups say former members of the paramilitary groups are still active.

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