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BOGOTA GUNMEN MURDER WOMAN LINKED TO SCANDAL

SHARE BOGOTA GUNMEN MURDER WOMAN LINKED TO SCANDAL

Gunmen killed a woman who may have been involved in the scandal over drug money in President Ernesto Samper's campaign, authorities said Friday.

Elizabeth de Sarria was shot 12 times and a man was killed as they left an apartment building in northern Bogota on Thursday, police said. Two gunmen escaped in a car.The murders came amid a national political crisis prompted by charges that Samper won the 1994 election with millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the Cali cocaine cartel. Despite mounting evidence against him, Samper has refused to step down.

The bodies of Sarria, 46, and Humberto Vargas were identified Friday after being brought to the city morgue.

In recent days, there have been increased death threats against people linked to the scandal, including Samper's lawyer, his former campaign manager and the prosecutor general.

Last year, a shadowy group called "Dignity for Colombia" claimed responsibility for an attack on Samper's attorney and the murder of a politician who was critical of the president. The group criticized drug corruption and demanded that Samper resign.

Government critics speculated the attacks were attempts, possibly by Samper sympathizers, to divert attention from the scandal.

Officials did not say who might have killed Sarria.

In an audiotape released in August, Sarria is heard talking to Samper about arrangements for a meeting with unidentified campaign donors. Samper was heard insisting he doesn't have time to meet with the donors, who were visiting from Brazil. He offered to send campaign treasurer Santiago Medina or Fernando Botero, his campaign director.

Both men have said Samper solicited drug money for the campaign, and both were arrested for their roles in allegedly collecting cartel cash.