Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia investigate US military sex abuse allegations

Colombia soldiers train at an army base in Tolemaida. 1999 Image copyright AP
Image caption Tolemaida, the base near the towns where the abuse is alleged to have taken place, is the largest in Colombia

Colombia says it will investigate accusations that US contractors and military staff sexually abused minors for four years from 2003.

An academic report said in February that at least 53 underage girls were abused in two towns in central Colombia.

US soldiers allegedly filmed the abuse and sold the tapes as pornography.

The Colombian Ombudsman said he had asked for an update on a US inquiry into the allegations.

The Colombian government welfare body, the ICBF, called for the girls and adolescents allegedly involved to be located and identified.

The allegations were published by a historian, Renan Vega, in a report on Colombia's long-running conflict between the government and FARC rebels .

It was part of a set of 12 reports on the conflict, by various historians, requested by negotiators at peace talks taking place in the Cuban capital, Havana.

Mr Vega alleges that the abuse happened in two towns, Melgar and Girardot in central Colombia near one of the country's largest military bases.

He also alleged that in Melgar, a US contractor and a US sergeant raped a 12-year-old girl in 2007.

The French news agency AFP quoted the US Embassy in Bogota as saying it "takes very seriously any allegation of sexual misconduct by one of its officials."

US military and contractors have been working in Colombia for more than a decade during a multi-billion-dollar military and diplomatic aid operation named "Plan Colombia" aimed at fighting drug trafficking and insurgencies.

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