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Officers dismissed over civilian deaths

The Colombian government fired 25 army officers, including three generals, amid a probe into the role of the country's armed forces in the disappearance and killing of a group of young civilians declared to be rebels killed in battle.

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The Colombian government Wednesday fired three generals and 22 other military personnel following a probe into suspected executions initially reported as combat deaths.

Military forces commander General Freddy Padilla announced the unprecedented move following a press conference with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos.

"The investigation has found that members of the armed forces could be involved in murders," Uribe said at the press conference in the presidential residence.

Three generals, 11 colonels, three majors, a captain, a lieutenant and six non-commissioned officers were relieved of their duties due to a probe into the disappearance of young people from poor areas of southern Bogota, he said.

The youths were declared to be rebels killed in combat just days after their disappearance was reported in Bogota.

The scandal broke following the discovery in late September of their bodies in communal graves in northeastern Colombia.

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