Colombia to Step Up War on ELN Rebels After Troops Ambushedby
Eleven soldiers and one policeman died in the attack
ELN hasn't started formal peace talks with Santos government
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos vowed to step up attacks on the National Liberation Army, or ELN, after blaming the Marxist guerrilla group for an attack that killed 12 members of the security forces Monday.
The guerrillas ambushed soldiers and police in Boyaca province, a mountainous region in north east Colombia, where they had been safeguarding Sunday’s regional elections, Santos said. Eleven soldiers and one policeman died in the attack, Santos said.
“This is an event that shows that the ELN hasn’t understood that this is a time of peace, and not of war,” Santos said, in a national address. “I have ordered the Minister of Defense, and the armed forces, to redouble their efforts, to intensify their military actions, against this organization.”
The ELN, Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla group, has held exploratory talks with the government but hasn’t started formal peace negotiations. Government negotiators have held talks with the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, since 2012, seeking a peace deal to end more than half a century of conflict.
Two soldiers and one policeman are still missing following the attack, along with two poll workers and one member of the U’wa indigenous group, according to the Ministry of Defense.