Colombia’s military said Thursday that it has killed twelve members of the ELN guerrilla group in the southwest of Colombia, six of which were identified.
In a military operation against the guerrilla group, twelve members of Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group were killed by soldiers on Thursday morning.
“In recent hours in a military operation coordinated with the national police aimed at securing the protection and security of the civilian population and to combat criminality, illegal mining and drug trafficking in the south of the country, between troops and the National Army and with the direct action of the Colombian air force, [twelve] members of the “Jose Maria Becerra” ELN front were killed and one more was captured,” the army said.
One other guerrilla was captured and eight rifles were seized along with three pistols, three hand grenades, 50 cartridges, four unused landmines, two computers, two hard drives, communication equipment and instruction material.
The army’s press release also underlined the major criminal activity conducted by the group, including some of the major terrorist attacks committed. These included the 1999 La Maria church kidnapping in which 121 church attendees were victims, the 2000 mass kidnapping of 94 people, and the 2001 terrorist attack where a number of electricity pylons were demolished.
The ELN has been an active participant in Colombia’s armed conflict since it was founded in 1964, and announced informal peace talks with the government in June 2014, five days before the reelection of President Juan Manuel Santos.
Originally fighting for political reasons, the group eventually became involved in large scale drug trafficking at the end of the 1990s.
Just a week ago, the groups leader Nicolas Rodriguez announced positive sentiments towards the possibilities of a formal peace process with the government.