ELN has increased attacks as part of ‘strategy to enter peace talks’
By Mark Kennedy
The Colombian guerrilla group the National Liberation Army (ELN) is stepping up attacks on oil installations and other infrastructure in a bid to gain leverage with the government in any future peace talks.
That’s according to a recently released report by the UK-based think tank, the Maplecroft Terrorism and Security Dashboard (MTSD).
The ELN — Colombia’s second largest rebel group — has increased attacks on pipelines and other infrastructure in recent months, particularly in the north of the country, as part of an effort to pressure the government of President Juan Manuel Santos to the negotiation table, the report said.
Both the ELN and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) pose threats to infrastructure in the departments of Putumayo, Antioquia, Meta, Norte de Santander and Arauca, it added.
Just last week, on July 26, the FARC blew up an aqueduct in Meta, leaving 60,000 residents in that department without water, according to local media reports.
Earlier this year, a FARC-attributed attack on an electricity grid left the western city of Buenaventura without power for four days.
Although both rebel groups have been attacking infrastructure around the country for as long as they have fought their insurgencies, the ELN is responsible for the majority of assaults, the MTSD report stated.
For example, from June 1 to July 14 of this year, ELN militants successfully carried out 10 attacks on energy infrastructure in Colombia, while the much larger FARC, with a far greater number of fighters, only carried out six.
The MTSD report also ranked Colombia 11th on a list of countries with an “extreme risk” of a terrorist attack.