FARC and ELN guerrillas have launched at least 63 attacks against security forces and infrastructure in January, the majority after the January 20 end of the FARC’s unilateral ceasefire, according to Colombia Reports’ conflict monitor.
According to reports by national, regional and local media, FARC rebels attacked 51 times between January 1 and January 31. Before January 20, there were just three FARC attacks. However, after that date, attacks erupted with 48 FARC attacks in just 11 days.
The FARC and ELN attacks left at least ten members of the security forces dead and 24 wounded.
At the same time, fighting between rebels and the army killed four civilians and left a dozen wounded.
Leading FARC negotiator “Ivan Marquez” announced the end of the unilateral ceasefire on January 20, saying an extension would be impossible if the government did not agree to make it bilateral.
Meanwhile, the smaller rebel group ELN, which is currently trying to gain access to the ongoing peace talks, launched 12 attacks against various targets in January, including the kidnapping of six gold miners in the northern Bolivar department.
Twelve of the FARC or ELN attacks were directed at the country’s oil and gas industry, like a bombing of the economically important Transandino pipeline in southern Colombia on January 21.
The most affected departments were Antioquia, in the northwest of the country, Norte de Santander, located in northern Colombia along the border with Venezuela, the southwestern department of Cauca and the Caribbean department of La Guajira.
On Saturday last week, FARC rebels from the Sixth Front kidnapped two policemen in the Florida mountains, some 15 miles east of Colombia’s third largest city, Cali. FARC said Saturday the policemen would be released together with another soldier captured in the southwestern Nariño department. Meanwhile, in the southwestern Cauca department, FARC rebels kidnapped three civilian oil engineers on Wednesday. The captives were released some 24 hours later.
The FARC, with between 9,000 and 11,000 armed guerrilla fighters, has been fighting a succession of Colombian state since 1964. The organization was born in the southern part of the central Tolima department, where it stills retains a significant presence today. Its founder, “Manuel Marulana, also known as “Sure Shot” led the organization from its inception until his death in 2008.
The organization has traditionally been considered Marxist-Leninist, however, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, dissent factions of the organization steered more towards Bolivarianism, an ideology putting heavy focus on independence, Latin American nationalism and anti-imperialism.