UN, EU urge calm as death toll from 'bloodbath' Colombia protests rises

Warning: This article contains graphic details.

The UN and EU are urging calm and warning of the use of excessive force amid further violent protests in Colombia against the Government in which 19 people have died and dozens have been injured.

Originally called in opposition to a now-cancelled tax reform, the protests have become a broad cry for action against poverty and what demonstrators and some advocacy groups say is police violence.

Colombians have been crying out for help on Twitter, urging the UN and other foreign powers to take action against what they say is military, police, and Government brutality.

"Colombia is a bloodbath right now," Colombian professional footballer Sebastian Velasquez wrote.

"Please, I beg you, help me get in touch with the biggest news media outlets! My family has asked to stand up for them and this is how I will do it for Colombia."

The Colombian arm of the hacker group Anonymous likened the violence to The Purge films which present a dystopian future of an annual 'purge' - a 12-hour period where any crime, including murder, is legal. 

"F**K COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT," a post on the group's Twitter page said. 

The New Zealand High Commission in Colombia has warned any Kiwis in the country to avoid public demonstrations.

"A nationwide general strike has been called for Wednesday, May 5, 2020," the commission said in a statement.

"There may be significant disruption, especially in Bogota and other major cities. 

"Airports may close, major highways may be blocked at short notice and there is the potential for demonstrations to turn violent. You should avoid all public demonstrations and follow the advice of local authorities, as the security situation can change very quickly."

The Colombia national police said it will investigate more than two dozen allegations of brutality, while the Defence Minister has alleged illegal armed groups are infiltrating the protests to cause violence.

Some 87 people have been reported missing nationally since the protests started, according to the human rights ombudsman.

The UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged calm and warned of police shootings. The EU also called for security forces to avoid a heavy-handed response.

"We are deeply alarmed at developments in the city of Cali in Colombia overnight, where police opened fire on demonstrators protesting against tax reforms," UN spokesperson Marta Hurtado said in a Tuesday statement.

Reuters / Newshub.