Hooded gunmen blast Colombian church congregation

Hooded gunmen burst into an evangelical church packed with hymn-singing worshipers in southern Colombia and opened fire, killing three and wounding 14 others, authorities said on Sunday.

The attack by the unknown assailants came on Saturday night in the steamy town of Puerto Asis, a stronghold of far-right paramilitary outlaws in jungle near the border with Ecuador dotted with illegal coca plantations.

"We were singing hymns to God when I heard the shooting, a burst of gunfire," said the church's pastor, Francisco Sevillano.

The gunmen left propaganda in favor of Marxist rebels when they fled the bloody scene, local television reported, but Sevillano said he knew of no threats against his church.

Killings are common in Puerto Asis and are often related to the drug trade or the struggle between leftist guerrillas and the illegal paramilitaries. Both sides draw funds from cocaine.