Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Colombia: fighting between armed groups frightens the population

BOGOTA ( Associated Press) — The Colombian department of Arauca, bordering Venezuela, has experienced a surge in violence in recent days due to clashes between National Liberation Army guerrillas and a faction of Revolutionary Armed Forces dissidents from Colombia.

Clashes have occurred in the rural area of ​​Puerto Rondón municipality, where about 5,000 people live, difficult for humanitarian organizations to reach given the precariousness of the roads and the population impact in the villages of El Paisaje, Normandy. and Lejanías. , where there is confinement and they have begun forced displacement to nearby urban centers in search of refuge, the ombudsman confirmed on Thursday, without giving details of the number of people in the mobility.

The ombudsman, Carlos Camargo, warned in a statement a day earlier that several bodies of men killed in the war had been found in Puerto Rondón, without specifying the number.

Human Rights Watch said on Twitter that it had received reports of at least 10 people killed following the clashes. While videos are circulating on social networks that show people shooting and then multiple bodies, the veracity of which has not been confirmed by the authorities.

The army reported on Thursday night that it activated a special device to ensure the access of the prosecutor’s technical team, which allows to start the investigation process and establish the identity of the bodies found. In addition, they indicated that they had defused more than 20 explosive devices in a controlled manner in the area to avoid affecting the community.

President Gustavo Petro, in his policy of “complete peace”, has proposed opening channels of dialogue with various illegal armed groups, including the ELN, FARC dissidents and drug gangs.

In early 2023, the government ordered a suspension of military operations against two factions of FARC dissidents, the Clan del Golfo cartel and the Self-Defense Forces of the Sierra Nevada, as part of a bilateral ceasefire.

The government has not ruled out clashes in Arauca between FARC dissidents and the ELN, a guerrilla with whom it has been at the negotiating table since November 2022 and which has not accepted a bilateral ceasefire.

The government invited the OAS, the Catholic Church and the United Nations to verify the ceasefire. The day before, the head of the UN verification mission in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Macieu, told the press that this is a preliminary ceasefire agreement with protocols to be followed to determine, for example, what prohibited actions are.

The ombudsman’s office summoned two armed groups registered in Arauca at the beginning of the week to stop the ongoing clashes and violence in general. The unit said that last year, 352 cases of homicide and 81 cases of kidnapping and disappearance were registered in the department.

Since 2021, the unit has warned of the risk facing the civilian population due to the presence of ELN and FARC dissidents who were sidelined following a 2016 peace deal between the guerrillas and the state. They dispute municipal, strategic control. To move to other Colombian departments and Venezuelan territory, and to control illegal income such as drug trafficking and smuggling.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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