The Colombian military on Wednesday captured 16 suspected ELN fighters in the north of the country, close to where the group is suspected of holding a Canadian miner hostage.
The operation was carried out by troops of the army’s second division and occurred in the municipality of Morales, southern Bolivar.
According to the military, at least one of the suspected rebels was involved in the kidnapping of Canadian miner Jernoc Wobert in the nearby Norosi municipality. The Canadian was kidnapped with five others who were subsequently released.
“The offensive operation led to the capture of ‘Julian’, an alleged ringleader of the rebel group behind the kidnapping of six workers on January 18.”
“Among the capture of Julian, there were 15 others, including eight children” the statement added.
The rebel group seemingly seek to engage in peace talks with the government. President Santos’ insistence however, that the group cease kidnapping activities prior to negotiations has been rejected by the ELN.
- Capturados 16 integrantes del frente de Guerra Darío Ramírez Castro del ELN, entre ellos 8 menores de edad (Army web page)
- Ejército captura 16 presuntos guerrilleros del ELN en el municipio de Morales (Bolivar government web page)
- Declaración del Presidente Juan Manuel Santos en la desmovilización de 30 guerrilleros (President’s web page)