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Colombia Denies Report Linking Army Chief to Paramilitaries

The government of Colombia has denied a U.S. newspaper report based on leaked intelligence documents that linked Army chief General Mario Montoya to right-wing militias.

The Los Angeles Times based its Sunday story on a CIA report that said General Montoya jointly planned and coordinated an operation in 2002 with a paramilitary group to eliminate Marxist guerillas near Medellin.

Colombia's government issued a statement rejecting the accusation. The statement said the charges had been filtered through the press without evidence being presented to Colombian authorities.

General Montoya would be the highest-ranking official to be linked to the paramilitaries.

A former intelligence chief and eight allies of President Alvaro Uribe have been imprisoned for alleged collusion with paramilitary groups which have been blamed for some of Colombia's worst massacres.

The militias were formed in the 1980s by wealthy ranchers to battle leftist rebels. They evolved into powerful criminal gangs that engaged in drug trafficking, civilian massacres and other atrocities.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.