The Colombian army said Saturday it has killed five ELN guerrillas in combat near the town of Fortul where it stepped up operations to find the 10-year old daughter of the local mayor who was kidnapped late last month.
According to General Jaime Reyes, commander of the 18th Brigade, the fighting took place in Tame, a municipality 30 miles from the Venezuelan border.
“Another guerrilla of the National Liberation Army (ELN) that was injured was attended in the area and is stable,” the military commander was quoted as saying by Spanish press agency Efe.
According to Reyes, the offensive in which the guerrillas were killed are part of the operation to free the mayor’s daughter, who was kidnapped outside her school by an unidentified armed group.
The Arauca department where the kidnapping and the fighting took place is one of the strongholds on the ELN, but also has a high presence of fellow-guerrilla group FARC and drug trafficking organizations like Los Rastrojos.