BOGOTA, Jan 18 (Reuters) - One community activist was killed in Colombia every 60 hours last year, the country's human rights ombudsman said, amid attacks by illegal armed groups.
In 2021, 145 social leaders - a broad term used in Colombia to mean human rights defenders, community leaders and environmentalists, among others - were killed, ombudsman Carlos Camargo said in a statement late on Monday.
The number of slayings was down from 182 in 2020.
Violence against social leaders has become a defining challenge for President Ivan Duque's government amid international criticism and demands that it do more to stop the killings.
"We are deeply saddened by each case, because of the impact they have on the communities," Camargo said.
Numbers of community leader killings in Colombia vary widely depending on the source.
The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) last week reported it had confirmed 78 killings of human rights defenders in 2021, while local advocacy group Indepaz earlier counted 171.
The government accuses left-wing guerrillas from the National Liberation Army, ex-members of the FARC rebels who reject a 2016 peace deal, and criminal groups, some comprised of former right-wing paramilitaries, of attacking activists as they seek control of drug trafficking networks and illegal mining areas. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta Writing by Oliver Griffin Editing by Paul Simao)
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