Spate Of ELN Attacks

By bogotapost April 25, 2014

Latest murders may be part of series of planned attacks

IN THE latest of several acts of violence, leftist rebel group ELN (National Liberation Army) have killed a rancher taken hostage a week ago in Arauca.

Luis Alberto Álvarez was found dead with several bullet wounds on April 20 in Saravena, Arauca. The military in the region, Fuerza de Tarea Quirón (Quirón Task Force), strongly condemned the murder.

Two policemen, Andrés Felipe Cruz and Juan David Peñalosa, were also killed on April 16 in an attack that has been attributed to the group. Local police said rebels riding in a pickup truck shot at the two police officers who were standing near the police checkpoint in rural Arauca.

Arauca, the region bordering Venezuela,  is considered an ELN stronghold. The group often carry out attacks on authorities and energy infrastructure in this area. Earlier this month it was announced that the Caño Limón pipeline, Colombia’s principal oil pipeline, has been out of action since February due to repeated attacks by the ELN and subsequent local protests at the environmental damage.

The Farc, Colombia’s other most prominent rebel group, are currently in peace talks with the government in Havana, Cuba. Until now, ELN have not come to the table and many critics of the current peace process say the group’s participation is essential to achieving a lasting peace.

It was reported in El Tiempo on April 22 that evidence had been found of a possible alliance between Farc and ELN for the upcoming May 1 anniversary of Farc’s formation.

An email found on a computer seized in an anti-Farc operation gives instructions for a series of attacks to take place this week.

The plan outlined in the email is to “select viable military targets and…to seriously affect the economy.”

It sets out possible attacks on the country’s energy systems, the blocking of major roads and the use of “snipers, explosive experts and artillery against several military and transnational objectives.”

State officials made links between the plan and recent events in the country, saying the bombing of the Pan-American highway, the explosion of a Bogotá electrical tower, and the attacks in Cauca and Arauca could all be part of the group’s strategy.

By Charlotte Ryan