Colombia’s ELN rebels seek to gain ground with attacks ahead of peace talks


Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has stepped up attacks on energy infrastructure in recent months in order to “gain ground” ahead of peace talks with the government, analysts have said.

The talks, originally scheduled for Oct. 27 last year in Quito, Ecuador, were put on hold until Jan. 10 as the rebels failed to meet the government’s demand for releasing former lawmaker, Odin Sanchez, who was kidnapped by the ELN in April 2016.

Talks with the ELN will be more difficult than with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), given that the group suffers more internal division and many of its fronts act independently, said Political analyst Fernando Giraldo from Pontifical Xavierian University.

“The ELN fronts have distinctly different ideologies which makes it difficult to maintain a unified position against the government,” he said.

“With attacks on the authorities, such as blowing up pipelines and not freeing their captives, the ELN is seeking to exert pressure on the government.”

The ELN wrote on Twitter that it hoped that by Jan. 10, positions of negotiating parties would “be made flexible and that an agreement without unilateral conditions can be reached.”

The rebel group has confirmed its participation in the Jan. 10 peace talks in Quito.

“The ELN is trying to show that it could, despite being a weaker guerrilla group with fewer members, take over territories and illegal businesses left by the FARC,” said Analyst Pedro Villamizar. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/

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