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Top general resigns after civilian killings

Colombia's top army commander resigned on Tuesday after the US-backed military was rocked by a probe into suspected executions of civilians that were initially reported as combat deaths.

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Colombian army commander Mario Montoya resigned Tuesday after the government acknowledged that army members of may have been involved in extrajudicial killings.

President Alvaro Uribe last week had sacked some two dozen military officials, including three generals, following a probe into suspected executions initially reported as combat deaths.

Military commander General Freddy Padilla already had relieved three generals, 11 colonels, four majors, one captain, one lieutenant and seven lower-ranking soldiers of their duties, following a probe into the disappearance of youths from poor neighborhoods in south Bogota.

The youths were declared to be rebels killed in combat in a remote area of northern Colombia just days after their disappearance was reported in Bogota.

The scandal broke following the discovery in late September of 19 bodies in mass graves in northwestern Colombia. An army investigation was launched October 3.

Relatives of the victims said that before they disappeared they had been offered high-paying work on farms in the north of the country by strangers.
  

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