Updated 05:32 AM EDT, Mon, Oct 23, 2017
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Colombia Increases Aggression Toward ELN Guerillas Amidst Peace Talks with FARC

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In the midst of peace treaties with Colombia's largest rebel group, the government is fighting a different battle, this time with the National Liberation Army (ELN). The ELN seconds the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in terms of size.

The ELN was founded in 1964. Like the FARC, it is a Marxist guerilla group opposing Colombia's privatization of natural resources as well as the unequal distribution of wealth. It is smaller than the FARC though, with about 2,000 fighters in Norte de Santander, Arauca, and Narino states.

On Monday, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the government will be intensifying their fight against the ELN, adding that these intensified operations will be against "all forms of crime arising from [the ELN] presence," as noted by TeleSurf TV.

The announcement came after the guerrilla group was accused of attacking a military brigade in the northern state of Aurora, where they were said to have a strong presence. While the ELN did not accept responsibility for the attack, the Colombian army reiterated their suspicions after a primary investigation.

Nobody was hurt in the attack, but damage was done to the facilities and three vehicles. This led Santos to offer a reward amounting to $445,000 for the head of the accused mastermind, Domingo Lain, also known by the group as "William."

BBC News reported Santos saying, "The ELN is dead wrong if it thinks that with attacks like this it can smooth the path to peace. If they think it will strengthen their position at the negotiating table, they are totally mistaken."

It is unfortunate that these types of aggression were recorded at this point. According to UPI, the ELN and the Colombian government were engaging in preparatory talks for more formal negotiations for peace, similar to what the government is doing with the FARC. However, both parties are accusing the other of stalling the process, which adds to their hostility.

In 2014, when the peace talks efforts were launched, President Santos did not call a ceasefire between the ELC and the military, demanding instead that the rebel group release two captives as a condition to begin the negotiations.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the United Nations Security Council agreed to an unarmed political mission to monitor the bilateral cease-fire between the FARC and Colombia's government, with the final deals set to be signed by March 23. However, while things are going well with the current peace process, even the head negotiator of the FARC noted that unless the ELN strikes a similar deal with the Bogota government, peace cannot be achieved in Colombia.

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