Colombia’s military said Tuesday that seven minors recruited by the ELN guerrilla group have been taken into government custody after a military operation that demobilized their unit in the west of the country.
Six of the seven children recruited by the leftist group are of indigenous background and— according to the National Army— have been left in the care of the state-run Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) in the region.
Commander of the operation, Brigadier General Ruben Darío Alzate Mora, expressed his concern about the “violation of the children’s rights due to the criminal recruitment and use of them by the organization (ELN) during the armed conflict,” the military statement said.
A number of other members of the Manuel Hernandez “El Boche” front were apprehended during the operation— including the capture of two senior men, alias “Gustavo and alias “Colacho”, both veterans of the armed conflict and both known for specializing in crimes such as extortion and kidnapping, the National Army stated.
Along with the demobilization of the group, a number of weapons, including pistols, ammunition cartridges, grenades and antipersonnel mines were seized by the army.
The “El Boche” front makes up part of the western combat front for the ELN guerrilla group in a 10 municipalities across El Choco, according to newspaper El Colombiano.
The ELN is the second largest rebel group in Colombia’s ongoing armed conflict and have recently targeted the infrastructure of multinational oil companies in the country.