Colombia’s National Army on Thursday reported that three soldiers and three guerrillas died in combat in the northeast of the country.
According to an army press release, the unit was able to neutralize the attack in the Arauca province bordering Venezuela after fighting that reportedly lasted two hours.
Guerrillas allegedly had intended to attack nearby Caricare oil complex.
The army said to have prevented 20 FARC and three ELN attacks across the country in the last 48 hours alone in what would be a major increase in combat operations of the FARC that until recently was upholding a unilateral ceasefire.
The uplift in violence occurred on the same day that Cuba and Norway, the guarantors of peace talks with the FARC in Havana urged the guerrillas and Colombian government to move towards a bilateral ceasefire.
The Norwegian and Cuban representatives expressed their “profound concern with the current escalation of violence” and said to “regret the loss of lives this has cost” in what should be the final stretch of the talks that began in 2012.
This reasoning has been echoed by Colombia’s Ombudsman Jorge Armando Otalora, who told Caracol Radio that the bilateral ceasefire would be “ideal to prevent further suffering in communities affected by the conflict”.
The 51 year conflict has caused more than 260,000 Colombian deaths and left over 7 million victims.
President Juan Manuel Santos has so far resisted this notion whereas the FARC has consistently expressed a desire for this. “It doesn’t make sense that we keep killing each other in the middle of peace talks,” FARC negotiator “Pastor Alape” stated.
The guarantor countries stated that “never before Colombia has been closer to finding a peaceful solution to the armed conflict”, though with violence escalating and peace talks seemingly at a halt actions seem to suggest otherwise.
Comunicado de Prensa (National army)
Fuertes enfrentamientos entre la guerrilla y el Ejército (El Espectador)