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Protests turn violent in Colombia; 3 students missing

By Renzo Pipoli
Protests turn violent in Colombia; 3 students missing
Colombian authorities faced multiple protests this week that turned violent, including one student who was hit by a vehicle. File Photo by Parameciorecords/Pixabay/UPI

Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Protests by students and worker unions in several Colombia cities turned violent Thursday, including an attack against a police officer in Bogota and the disappearance of three people.

Colombia state attorney Nestor Martinez said Friday authorities are trying to identify those who threw an "incendiary bomb" at the officer. When they are found, they will be charged with attempted homicide, RCN radio reported.

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A tweet by the Metropolitan Police of Bogota said the officer, Oscar Ballesteros, was not hurt. Ballesteros said he and other officers quickly put out the flames.

The student group that organized the protest condemned the attack on the officer, but also criticized what it said is violent repression by police.

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Authorities are also examining video footage to investigate a vehicle running into a woman who was hit as she became trapped in the middle of the demonstration. Police are trying to determine if the driver committed a crime or was just trying to get away, Martinez said, according to RCN.

Officials are also looking for three students from the National University of Colombia who are considered missing. The Popular Network of Human Rights of Bogota said eight others were illegally detained, El Espectador reported Friday.

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The students who officials say "disappeared" were identified as Diego Barrera, Sebastian Melgarejo and Juan Pablo Tovar.

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According to El Espectador, they were last seen participating in a student protest demanding more state support for public schools -- not long before security forces broke up the groups.

Earlier this week, students took over university's rector's office, as well as the radio station and other areas of the state university. They organized the protests to press the government to restart dialogue with both students and teachers to provide more state support.

Students in other areas of Colombia also took part in protests.

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