The Colombian Navy killed nine suspected ELN rebels in an “offensive operation”, in the hardest blow against that guerrilla since the peace talks table was established with the government of Gustavo Petro, the Military Forces reported on Monday.
The operation took place last Friday in a rural area of the municipality of Buenaventura (southwest), where “nine presumed members of the ELN were killed in combat,” General Helder Giraldo, commander of the Military Forces, told the media.
Giraldo also lamented the death of a marine who “was initially wounded in this confrontation and later died.”
The ELN, the last recognized guerrilla in the country after the disarmament of the FARC in 2017, sat down to negotiate with the government of leftist Gustavo Petro at the end of 2022 in Venezuela. But a false start by Petro caused the first setback in the dialogues.
On New Year’s Eve, the president announced, according to the guerrillas without his consent, a bilateral ceasefire.
On January 3, the insurgents denied it and since then they have assured that the negotiations are in “crisis.” In response, Petro backed out of the truce.
Since then, the Military Forces have killed a total of 10 guerrilla members (including the 9 who died in this operation) and captured another 21, according to Giraldo.
“These operations will continue to be carried out,” the general anticipated.
Government and guerrilla delegates will meet again in mid-February in Mexico for a new round of talks with a bilateral truce on the agenda.