Colombia sees calmer protests

Colombian demonstrators are demanding government action on poverty, police violence and inequality.
Colombian demonstrators are demanding government action on poverty, police violence and inequality.

Protests in Colombia have marked their ninth day with smaller groups of demonstrators in cities including Bogota and Medellin.

Protests began last week in opposition to a now-cancelled tax reform plan, but demonstrators have since broadened their demands to include government action to tackle poverty, police violence and inequality in the health and education systems.

Marches around the country have been marred by violence and 24 people have died, mostly demonstrators. International organisations have warned against excessive use of force by police.

Three people were shot in the small city of Pereira on Wednesday night, with a reward of up to 50 million pesos (about $A17,000) offered for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

In Bogota, a group of hundreds of demonstrators, mostly young people, intermittently blocked a major road in the city's north, encouraging stopped vehicles to honk in support.

Police violence during demonstrations also brought protesters out.

The human rights ombudsman lists the national police or ESMAD as presumed responsible for 11 of the two dozen officially confirmed deaths.

Local advocacy group Temblores has reported 37 deaths in connection with demonstrations while Human Rights Watch said it has so far confirmed 11 were connected to protests, out of 31 reported to it.

After a violent night in Bogota earlier this week, things calmed overnight, Mayor Claudia Lopez said on Thursday.

Small groups of protesters also marched in Colombia's second-city Medellin, but dissipated amid heavy rain, a spokesperson for the mayor's office told Reuters on Thursday.

Despite a decline in tension, the longevity of the protests has disrupted supplies of petrol across the country, the National Federation of Fuel and Energy Distributors said, resulting in fuel shortages.

Australian Associated Press