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    The victim's body was found near her house in a coffee plantation. | Photo: EFE

51 representatives have been murdered so far this year, according to the rights group Somos Defensores.

Idaly Castillo Narvaez, a social leader from the town of Rosas in the southwestern Colombian state of Cauca, has been "assassinated after she was tortured and sexually abused," according to the regional Women's Secretary Rocio Cuenca.

Colombian Campesino Leader Murdered, Paramilitaries Implicated

“We believe ..it is necessary to open the relevant investigations in order to find the attacker as soon as possible,” she told Caracol Noticias.

Castillo's body was found near her house by state officials from the attorney general's office and sent for forensic examination to Popayan.

She was a member of the Victims' Table representing the town of Rosas, and vice president of the Rosas' Board for City Action.

A new report due to be released next week by the organization “Somos Defensores,” says 51 social leaders have been killed so far this year.

That's a 30 percent increase compared with the same period during 2016.

“When the FARC left their territories, that created a power vacuum that was seized by various groups who pressure social leaders,” commented Somos Defensores' leader Carlos Guevara, who went on to condemn the state's inaction.

“The government chose to send military forces to the territories, no one knows who is in charge, and that's when social leaders are assassinated.”

In addition, there has been a rise of paramilitary activity, according to the organization.

Criminal gangs are also competing for control of the territories.

The most dangerous regions for social leaders are Cauca, Valle del Cauca, and Nariño.

Last Sunday, Nidio Davila was killed in the village of Piedra Grande in the southwestern area of El Rosario, Nariño, on the border with Ecuador.

Davila belonged to the Association of Campesino Workers of Nariño, part of the National Federation of Agricultural Workers.


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