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Four dead as Colombia protests continue

Four people have died in Colombia as tens of thousands of protesters marked a month of demonstrations across the country, while talks between the government and the national strike committee have stalled.

In Cali, which has become an epicentre of the nationwide protests, Mayor Jorge Ospina on Friday confirmed three of the deaths.

Local media reported the fourth death occurred on the road between Cali and the town of Candelaria.

Demonstrations elsewhere were mostly peaceful, although clashes between police and protesters were reported in some areas, such as the municipality of Madrid, near Bogota.

“There must be dialogue between those calling for strikes, the national government, and the whole of society. If there are no talks, the spiral of violence will continue and unfortunately more people could die,” Ospina said.

Two people in Cali were killed when an agent of the attorney-general’s investigative unit opened fire on civilians, before also being killed, Attorney-General Francisco Barbosa said in a televised message. The agent was not on duty at the time, Barbosa said.

Violence has marked demonstrations over the last four weeks.

The government has so far confirmed 17 civilian deaths as directly connected with protests, while human rights groups claim dozens more civilians have been killed by security forces. Two police officers were also earlier reported killed during the protests.

Demonstrations began on April 28, pressuring the government and lawmakers into shelving tax and health reforms and leading to the resignation of former finance minister Alberto Carrasquilla.

Amid singing and music during demonstrations in capital Bogota, protesters told Reuters they would keep marching even after a month of demonstrations.

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