The Palace of Justice in the city of Tuluá, in southwestern Colombia, was set on fire this Tuesday, after a day of protests that ended in severe disturbances and violence . According to reports and videos released by the Police, the flames have destroyed a large part of the roof and the second floor of the judicial institution of this city, located in the department of Valle del Cauca, 94 kilometers north of Cali, the regional capital.
“Attacks like those of tonight in Tuluá cease to be vandalism and become terrorist acts . Peaceful protest is legitimate, violence is a crime,” said Colombian Justice Minister Wilson Ruiz, who condemned the attack.
It is still unknown who or who are behind the fire that the firefighters are trying to put out, although their arrival was hampered by the lack of control that prevails in the area and by a group of people who, between harangues and with their faces covered, were in the vicinity of the Palace.
Tuluá lived today very tense moments with clashes between the public force and groups of protesters and episodes of urban chaos, in a new day of the protests that have taken place throughout the country since April 28 and that leave 43 dead.
Cali and the Valle del Cauca region and neighboring Cauca, greatly affected by violence from armed groups and poverty and unemployment, have been the epicenter of much of this social unrest that has been evidenced in the protests. There have also been the greatest acts of violence, reports of looting and destruction of urban real estate by some people, and excessive use of force by the Police.
These events take place after the death of four young people , one of them a minor, was reported on Monday in this same city with stab and sharps injuries.
According to the Institute for Peace Studies (Indepaz), two of the victims had been reported missing last Sunday when they were going from a neighboring village to the urban area. Indepaz also said that the community denounces that pamphlets threatening those who block the roads have circulated in recent days, since in the department of Valle del Cauca and on the roads that connect with Cali is where the strongest and prolonged blockades are being lived the beginning of the protests.
Local media reported clashes between protesters blocking access to roads with residents , angry at this type of protest, in several areas near Cali.
In the rural areas of Tuluá there is a presence of armed groups such as dissidents from the extinct FARC guerrilla, the Clan del Golfo (the largest criminal gang in Colombia) or the Águilas Negras paramilitaries, and the Ombudsman’s Office has warned of the risk of more violence by the actions of those groups.