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Colombia records world's highest murder rate

By TOM QUINN

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Homicides are claiming an average 60 victims a day in Colombia, a country of 29 million, where drug wars and political violence have pushed the nation's murder rate to the highest level in the world, police said Wednesday.

The figures were released a day after unidentified gunmen shot and wounded Sen. Roa Miguel in the second attempt on the politician's life in three months.

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Miguel, who was shot five times, was listed in serious condition in a Bogata hospital.

'Murder is the major cause of death in adult males between the ages of 14 and 45,' Colombian police commander Gen. Miguel Gomez Padilla said Wednesday. 'This is a multi-faceted problem (that is) hard to attack.'

National Police statistics showed an average of 60 homicide victims a day in the first seven months of 1989, a rate that already outstrips that of 1988, when 20,000 homicides were reported, he said.

Gomez Padilla said the nation's homicide rate -- the highest of any nation -- stems from the combined problems of an increasingly polarized political situation, many drug-related gang wars and a breakdown in the criminal justice system. In 1988 only 1 percent of reported murder cases were solved, he said.

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Authorities said at least 57 people were slain Tuesday, including five workers in a cocaine laboratory and a journalist in the city of Medellin.

Gomez Padilla said authorities had no motive and no suspects in the attack on Roa, who was shot while in his car in an industrial area of south Bogota.

The city with the highest homicide rate in Colombo in Medellin, the headquarters of an international drug cartel of the same name. Police said 2,659 people have been slain so far this year in the city of 2 million.

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