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Facebook death lists spook Colombian town

100 teenagers named, three already killed

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The southwestern Colombian town of Puerto Asís is in a state of "panic and anxiety" after two death lists naming a total of 100 young people were posted on Facebook, warning them to get out of town within three days or face the consequences.

The first list, featuring 69 males, appeared on 17 August, although two of those on it were already dead. On 15 August, 16-year-old student Diego Ferney Jaramillo and 17-year-old "CD retailer" Eibart Alejandro Ruiz Munoz were gunned down as they rode their motorcycle to a nearby town.

Another name on the list, Norbey Alexander Vargas, 20, was killed on 20 August. On 23 August, a second list threatening 31 adolescent girls popped up on Facebook.

Andres Gerardo Verdugo, state government secretary for Putumayo Department, confirmed the tense atmosphere in Puerto Asís. He said: "Worried parents have begun to send their children away from the area."

Verdugo assured that the authorities and police - who intitially considered the first posting a joke - are conducting a thorough investigation. Internet experts are attempting to ascertain who published the lists, with left-wing FARC guerillas or the local "Rastrojos"* criminal gang likely suspects.

The lists have now been removed from Facebook. Spokeswoman Kumiko Hidaka told Yahoo! News: "We take users' security very seriously and reached out to local law enforcement as soon as we became aware of the issue in Colombia." ®

Caveat

None of the news reports on this we've seen agree on the exact details. While the above is pretty much CNN's take, local reports including this one have three lists totalling around 90 names, but also encompassing other towns outside Putumayo Department. El Colombiano further notes that some of those threatened could themselves be members of criminal gangs.

Bootnote

* Generally translates as "hay stubble", but in Latin America also means "waste" or "leftovers".

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