Pastor Elfren Martínez Pérez, age 55, was shot and killed on 16th September outside his home in Antioquia.
He led Nueva Filadelfia Church in the hamlet of La Ilusión near the city of Caucasia. The church belongs to the Association of Evangelical Churches of the Caribbean (AIEC) - one of the largest denominations in northern Colombia.
According to partners of the religious freedoms charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the pastor had challenged the presence of the illegal armed group believed to be a neo-paramilitary group which is active in the region.
A member of the community told CSW partners: "[Pastor Martínez Pérez] would confront [the neo-paramilitary group], they would always approach him to tell him that they had arrived to protect the community, that only they could do it, he would reply saying that the community did not need this form of protection".
Earlier in the day on 16th September, the pastor had refused demands by the men from the illegal armed group to transport them on his boat.
The men left but returned at 7pm accompanied by two others on motorbikes.
After calling Pastor Martínez Pérez out of his home, they reportedly said: "As you are a pastor, we will only shoot you once". One of the men then shot and killed the pastor in front of his home.
Pastor Martínez Pérez is survived by his wife and five adult children. They fled the village because of fears for their safety.
Pastor Elfren Martnez Prez, age 55, was shot and killed on 16 September outside his home in Antioquia, Colombia by members of an illegal armed group. https://t.co/pIqKTmqPn2 pic.twitter.com/8SYi8vmqx3— CSW_UK (@CSW_UK) September 24, 2018
Church leaders often play a dual role as de facto community leaders, especially in small rural communities in Colombia.
During the course of the 50-year conflict, hundreds of church leaders have been targeted by all sides in the conflict.
Illegal armed groups often attempt to force the cooperation of church leaders - as appears to be the case with Pastor Martínez Pérez - in an effort to bring the rest of the community under their authority.
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