Two police officers were killed and another injured while patrolling an area housing thousands of evacuees who escaped a potentially catastrophic flood in northeast Colombia, authorities said Friday.
The two policeman came under fire from snipers in the mountains surrounding the emergency zone in Puerto Valdivia, one of four municipalities in Antioquia department where locals have been evacuated over potential flooding and landslides from a hydroelectric plant at risk of collapse.
Antioquia police lieutenant commander Julio Cabrera said the area has been infiltrated by the "Gulf Clan" and "Los Caparrapos" drug trafficking gangs fighting over control of the lucrative narcotics trade, without identifying the attackers.
The murdered officers were named as Alexander Hernandez and Rafer Baldovino.
A month and a half ago, a soldier was killed while responding to an emergency at the Hidroituango plant in an attack authorities blamed on Marxist National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels.
The ELN are last recognized guerrilla group operating in Colombia following the landmark 2016 peace deal with FARC rebels, who fought a five-decade armed conflict against the government.
The Hidroituango dam is the largest hydroelectric project under construction in Colombia and is designed to supply a fifth of the country's energy demands.
But it descended into an emergency situation in May when a landslide blocked a tunnel diverting the flow of the Cauca river that feeds the dam.
The officers were killed in an area where locals have been evacuated over potential flooding and landslides from the Hidroituango dam project, pictured, which is at risk of collapse