• UN calls on Paraguay to investigate deaths of 11-year-olds in military operation
The United Nations has called for an investigation after two girls were shot dead in a raid by Paraguayan security forces on a rebel camp.
The United Nations calls for immediate investigation on the death of two girls who were shot
Neighbouring Argentina has identified the two victims as Argentine nationals and confirmed they were 11 years old.
The Paraguayan government had originally said they were teenage members of the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) rebel group.
The EPP is a small group mainly active in the north of Paraguay.
Paraguay’s ministry of foreign affairs expressed “deep regret” over the deaths of the girls. It also condemned what it described as “the EPP’s despicable use” of children and teenagers as human shields.
The two girls died during a joint raid on a rebel camp carried out by the Paraguayan police and military on Wednesday in Yby Yaú, about 370km (230 miles) north of the capital Asunción.
The security forces buried the girls’ bodies that same day, citing the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the swift burial. Their clothes were also burned by the security forces.On Wednesday, Paraguayan President Mario Abdó had described the raid on the rebel camp as “a successful operation”.
“It was successful in that some members of the EPP were brought down,” the president said, implying that the two girls – who were the only fatalities – were rebels. A forensic expert from the prosecutor’s office, Cristian Ferreira, said during a news conference on Thursday that those killed were female and that forensic tests carried out before they had been buried suggested that one of the girls was 15 and the other was aged between 17 and 18.
He also said that one of the girls had been hit by six shots and the other by two. According to Mr Ferreira, one of the victims had been wearing a “tactical vest” and both had hundreds of rounds of ammunition on them.
He added that fingerprints had been taken but no matches had been found in their database.
Security officials said a large number of weapons, explosives and $16,000 (£12,000) in cash had been found in the rebel camp as well as books about Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin and German philosopher Karl Marx, and a DVD about Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.