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2 Young Girls Killed and Former V.P. Missing in Paraguay Guerrilla Conflict

作者:admin 2020-09-13

2 Young Girls Killed and Former V.P. Missing in Paraguay Guerrilla Conflict  第1张

BUENOS AIRES — Paraguay’s president hailed a raid last week on a guerrilla camp as a successful operation that killed two militants.

But within days, the government was struggling to explain itself. The two people it had killed were actually young girls — 11 and 12 years old — who had been visiting the camp from Argentina. The revelation prompted an international outcry.

Now, a former vice president is being held hostage in what investigators believe may have been a retaliatory strike carried out by the Marxist guerrilla group.

The two developments have suddenly raised the stakes of a yearslong conflict between the Paraguayan government and the Paraguayan People’s Army, a tiny guerrilla movement that had gotten little traction in its bid to overthrow the state.

“This is a war,” Interior Minister Euclides Acevedo said in a news conference Thursday morning.

The abduction of Óscar Denis Sánchez, the former vice president, occurred Wednesday about 20 miles from where government forces killed the two girls during the Sept. 2 raid on the camp of rebel fighters.

President Mario Abdo Benítez had traveled to the remote area in the country’s northeast last week to praise the operation as an intelligence coup that dealt a big blow to the insurgents, known as the EPP.

Federico González, the minister of international affairs, told reporters shortly after the raid that a group of about 12 fighters fled the camp following the “rapid operation,” and that two female fighters had been slain.

But within a couple of days that account set off a backlash after it became clear that the supposed fallen militants were actually two young girls from Argentina who had been visiting their fathers at the camp.

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The government has since revised its version of what happened numerous times in the face of growing criticism in Paraguay and Argentina.

Photos of the dead girls wearing military-style uniforms were published in the local press. Officials said they buried the bodies quickly, following a protocol designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. They also said they burned the military uniforms the girls were said to be wearing, but only after a medical examiner stated the girls appeared to be in their mid- to late teens.

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