Segundo Benjamin Morales, a councilman belonging to the governing Radical Change party in the municipality of San Jose de Alban, in Colombia's southwestern Nariño province, was murdered on the weekend by an unknown gunman who broke into his house and shot him to death.

The National Federation of Councils, or Fedecon, announced the murder in a communique and did not rule out that it had been carried out by "presumed members of a group that has taken up arms" against the government.

Four other councilmen from San Jose de Alban also received death threats and were forced to leave the town with their families within 24 hours, Fedecon said.

Morales had complained that since last year he had been the target of death threats and extortion, and Fedecon president Carmen Lucia Agredo last February had visited the state-run National Protection Unit, or UNP, to ask that support, relocation, transportation and bodyguards be provided.

"But nothing except giving them a cell phone and a (bulletproof) jacket was done," Agredo said.

On Dec. 29, in the neighboring province of Cauca, another councilman belonging to the leftist Alternative Democratic Pole party was murdered, and also in that region last Friday a total of 13 councilmen and one community leader had to abandon the municipality after receiving threats. EFE