Thursday, August 14, 2014

Colombia: Escalating Rebel Violence in Norte de Santander, Arauca, Even EPL Shows Face

According to EFE, unidentified violent groups on Wednesday (August 13) burned three cargo trucks on a road linking the town of Ocaña with the city of Cucuta, both in Colombia’s northeastern Norte de Santander province, which borders on Venezuela. 

The incident, which occurred at 0600 hours local time, took place after several individuals intercepted the vehicles and then set the trucks on fire, completely closing down the roadway for hours.

So far, the perpetrators of the attack are unknown, but evidently operating in the region are elements of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Popular Liberation Army (EPL). 

COMMENT: It is noteworthy to point out that the EPL has not been heard of in years, which, on the face of it, is somewhat puzzling. 

Nevertheless, local authorities point in particular to the heavy ELN presence, with that rebel group in recent weeks carrying out assorted armed actions in Norte de Santander, which has been for years both an ELN and FARC breeding ground.

This strike comes 24 hours after two other attacks were staged in the nearby Department of Arauca, also evidently by the ELN, a conclusion drawn due to their significant presence in that zone.

Early Tuesday morning (August 12), eight soldiers were wounded in a rural portion of the town of Saravena when unknown attackers hurled a homemade bomb at them, leaving one of the troops in “very serious” condition, military sources confirmed to EFE.

Shortly thereafter, Pedro Antonio Bohorquez, the secretary for social development in Saravena, was shot to death by assassins who converged on him as he was entering the city hall with his bodyguard, who was also shot and killed.

Provincial authorities confirmed that the official had been threatened on numerous occasions by the ELN, which regularly targets Colombia’s petroleum infrastructure.

The violent deeds of the ELN, which is holding exploratory peace talks with the Colombian government, have dramatically escalated their level of violence against both troops, public officials and civilians since July 4, the 50th anniversary of ELN’s founding.