Colombia blames armed groups for protest violence, death toll still unclear
By Luis Jaime Acosta BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's defense minister on Monday blamed illegal armed groups for looting and vandalism during five days of street protests but would not confirm how many demonstrators have died. The protests, which began last week, demanded the withdrawal of a controversial tax reform proposed by the government of President Ivan Duque, who said Sunday the legislation would be retracted.
By Luis Jaime Acosta
BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia's defense minister on Monday blamed illegal armed groups for looting and vandalism during five days of street protests but would not confirm how many demonstrators have died.
The protests, which began last week, demanded the withdrawal of a controversial tax reform proposed by the government of President Ivan Duque, who said Sunday the legislation would be retracted.
Demonstrations continued on Sunday in the capital, Bogota, and other cities including Medellin and Cali despite the announcement.
"Colombia faces particular threats from criminal organizations that are behind these violent acts," Defense Minister Diego Molano said at a press conference, adding the vandals are not those marching peacefully.
Molano cited intelligence information in his allegation but did not offer further evidence.
Vandals were financed and organized by leftist guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and former FARC rebels who reject a 2016 peace deal, Molano added.
"We are saddened for all those who lost their lives due to criminal actions during these protests," Molano said.
He would not give specific details on the death toll, saying the attorney general's office would investigate.
The national human rights ombudsman has reported 16 civilians and one police officer were killed during five days of protests, while the procurator's office on Sunday said it is investigating connections between the protests and 14 violent deaths.
A local human rights group has reported more than 20 deaths.
Twenty-six allegations of police brutality during the protests are being investigated, said General Jorge Luis Vargas, director of Colombia's national police.
Truck drivers' and taxi drivers' unions, which had threatened to join protests on Monday, backed out of strikes following the withdrawal of the tax reform.
Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez said 25% of the capital's mass transit system was out of service following vandalism and urged those who attended marches to get tested for COVID-19 .
One major union said in a message on Twitter it would hold another national strike on Wednesday to protest a health reform, among other things.
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
(Reuters) -Ximalaya, backed by China's Tencent Holdings, filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in the United States on Friday, cashing in on growing demand as more people tune in to podcasts while staying at home during the pandemic. China's Qiniu Ltd, a cloud-based platform-as-a-service provider backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, also filed paperwork for a U.S. IPO
By Greg Roumeliotis (Reuters) - Donerail Group, an investment firm led by former activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP executive Will Wyatt, has amassed a stake in Turtle Beach Corp and is pushing the maker of gaming headsets to explore a sale, people familiar with the matter said on Friday. The move represents a bet that Turtle Beach could attract acquisition interest from peers such as Corsair Gaming Inc and GN Store Nord A/S, as the video game market continues to benefit from people looking for entertainment options at home during the COVID-19 pandemic
By John McCrank, Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Lawrence Delevingne NEW YORK (Reuters) - Recent volatility in a handful of so-called meme stocks is putting the spotlight back on the tussle between individual investors and short sellers, months after a wild ride in GameStop captivated Wall Street’s attention. Stocks that have notched big swings this month include laser-manufacturer MicroVision Inc, a favorite on Reddit’s popular WallStreetBets forum, whose shares have risen as much as 170% since April 20 before tumbling in recent days