Killings of Colombia ex-rebels could reach 1,600 by end of 2024: court

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BOGOTA (Reuters) - Some 1,600 former FARC guerrillas will have been murdered by the end of 2024 if current levels of targeted killings continue, Colombia's transitional justice tribunal said on Wednesday.

The government signed a peace deal with the now-demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016, ending the group's part in almost six decades of conflict.

But violence, which the government blames on crime gangs and rebels who reject the accord, besets former guerrillas.

They face high levels of danger, according to a report from the investigative unit of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) tribunal, with some ex-combatants in a "critical" situation in 10 municipalities across Colombia.

Between April 14 and 21, seven former fighters were killed, or roughly one every 24 hours, according to the unit.

"If the temporary variable of murders of re-integrated (fighters) continues, the number of such crimes could reach 1,600 by the end of 2024," the report said.

So far 271 former fighters have been killed since the peace deal was signed, according to Comunes, the political party formed by demobilized FARC members.

Former FARC fighters who have taken up roles as community leaders are especially vulnerable, the tribunal said. Of murdered ex-combatants, 20% were exercising leadership roles in economic projects, cooperatives or substitution of illicit crops like coca, the chief ingredient in cocaine.

"This pattern shows how leadership positions assumed by some re-integrated persons during their transition to civil life are related to the causes of their victimization," the court said.

(Reporting by Oliver Griffin; editing by Grant McCool)

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