Colombia defense minister quits amid firestorm over deaths

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia’s defense minister has resigned after coming under fire for failing to disclose the deaths of several minors in a military operation.

Guillermo Botero submitted his resignation to President Iván Duque Wednesday evening, citing the current “political circumstances.”

Duque announced on Twitter he was accepting Botero’s resignation and praised him for helping reduce record levels of coca cultivation.

Legislators held a heated debate Tuesday over whether to remove Botero from office.

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Sen. Roy Barreras accused Botero of neglecting to inform the public that at least seven minors had been killed in a military operation against dissidents with the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Authorities confirmed Wednesday that eight minors died in the operation.

Botero also faced criticism for his handling of a recent spate of violence against indigenous leaders.

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