Paraguay grants special powers to fight armed group

ASUNCION, (Reuters) – Paraguay’s Congress granted  police and the military special powers yesterday to crack  down on an armed left-wing group accused of several kidnappings  and attacks on police stations.

The emergency measures, which will apply for 60 days in the  northern provinces of San Pedro and Concepcion, allow the  government to order police as well as soldiers to arrest  suspects without warrants.

Leftist President Fernando Lugo is under growing pressure  to close the net on the Paraguayan People’s Army, which is  thought to have about 100 members.

“We’re going to provide the tools so the government can put  an end to this, and if they don’t put an end to it, we’re going  to start an impeachment process against the president,” said  opposition lawmaker Oscar Tuma.

Paraguay’s lower house gave final approval to a bill that  was passed by the Senate late last month, days after officials  blamed the Paraguayan People’s Army for gunning down two police  officers in Concepcion province.

Last year, Lugo dispatched extra police and troops to  remote areas bordering Brazil and Bolivia to track down members  of the group, who have been linked to Colombia’s FARC  guerrillas.

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