In Colombia, Teens Killed From Facebook Hit Lists

Earlier this month two teenagers were shot to death in the town of Puerto Asis in southern Colombia. Their names were among 100 or so that subsequently appeared on three "death lists" posted on Facebook. And then another of those named was killed five days later.

According to the BBC, Diego Ferney Jaramillo, 16, and Eibart Alejandro Ruiz Munoz, 17, were riding on a motorcycle on the outskirts of town on Aug. 15 when they were killed. The next day the first of the death lists appeared on Facebook. It contained 69 names. Five days later, on Aug. 20, another of those named on the list, Norbey Alexander Vargas, was murdered. And more lists—also mostly featuring the names of those under 18—were posted.

Leaflets were also placed on cars, as well as notes addressed to the families of those named. "Please, as relatives, ask them to leave town in less than three days, or we'll see ourselves forced to carry out more acts like that of 15 August," said one note, according to the BBC.

A police team including Internet experts has now been sent to the town. Agence France-Presse reports that authorities are "weighing the possibility of the lists being a macabre joke or game between adolescents in the town." The BBC quotes a local official claiming that a notorious gang, the Rastrojos, has recently started operating in the area, and the New York Daily News also mentions a local militant group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Young people do not know who is targeting them. "Need to protect our youth," a local Twitter user, Juan David Sepulveda, said over the service yesterday. One local girl, 17, contacted by NEWSWEEK via Facebook, did not want to be identified but said she was named on the latest list, posted Monday. She said, by message, that she did not know who was behind the threats. "But lots will leave," she said. "Friends have died here. What can [the police] do? I may go."