Colombia army chief resigns amid scandal

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Colombia's army chief has resigned in the wake of a scandal over killing civilians to boost body counts.

Gen. Mario Montoya did not mention the scandal in announcing his retirement.

Montoya's resignation Tuesday follows a clamor in Colombia's media over an army policy -- now rejected by the government -- of promoting officers whose units kill the most leftist rebels.

Human rights groups say scores of civilians have been murdered in recent years and presented as guerrillas slain in combat.

Last week, Colombia's government fired 20 army officers for negligence in failing to prevent or investigate the killings.

On Saturday, a top U.N. official called the extrajudicial killings "widespread and systematic."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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