Two Colombian soldiers killed in suspected rebel attack


At least two soldiers were killed and 11 injured in an attack by suspected leftist rebels using explosives, Colombia’s army said on Wednesday.

The soldiers were traveling in a vehicle close to the border with Venezuela when they hit an “improvised explosive device,” the army said in a statement.

In a tweet, army general Eduardo Zapateiro described the attack as a “terrorist act that flagrantly violates international humanitarian law.”

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The attack is believed to have been carried out by National Liberation Army guerrillas, although the group has not commented on it.

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The ELN is the last active rebel group operating in Colombia and has been since the historic 2016 peace deal that ended a half century of armed combat by the significantly larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia group.

Colombia’s military high command accuses Venezuela’s government of providing a safe haven for ELN guerrillas who then cross the border to carry out attacks.

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Authorities in Bogota say there are around 900 ELN guerrillas hiding on the other side of the border, a claim denied by Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro.

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The ELN began peace talks in 2018 with Colombia’s then-president Juan Manuel Santos.

But his successor Ivan Duque called those off after a car bomb attack on a police academy in January 2019 killed 22 people.

The ELN has around 2,300 fighters and an extensive support network in urban centers.

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Colombia is facing its worst wave of violence since the signing of the 2016 deal, according to the peace tribunal set up to investigate alleged rights abuses during the decades-long conflict.

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Dissident FARC rebels, ELN guerrillas, armed drug-trafficking groups and rightwing paramilitaries are all involved in a bloody battle to control the lucrative cocaine and illegal mining markets.



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