Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, allegedly attacked the country’s second largest oil pipeline on Tuesday, violently ending the temporary unilateral ceasefire called last week.
The Caño Limon-Coveñas pipeline targeted by the guerrillas transports crude oil from the northeastern province of Arauca along the border with Venezuela and the Magdalena valley towards the Caribbean coast.
The attack marked the end of the guerrillas’ ceasefire that was called to not interfere in a referendum on peace with the FARC, the country’s largest guerrilla group.
Colombia’s ELN rebels announce unilateral ceasefire ahead of peace with FARC
The referendum resulted in the surprising rejection of the signed peace deal, after which the ELN ended their ceasefire one day earlier than promised and resumed attacks.
The group used “improvised explosive devices” on the pipeline, according to authorities.
The attack did not cause an oil leak as there was no oil being pumped through at the time of the attack.
Army troops were sent to the site of the explosion in the Arauquita municipality in an attempt to restore safety in the rebel-controlled area.
The Quiron Task Force of the 8th Division of the Colombian army condemned the attack for affecting “the strategic well-being of the nation and ecosystem” and disrupting “peace among the civil population”
Although the FARC peace agreement was rejected by the majority of voters on Sunday, the ELN reiterated they want to start public peace talks with the government.
“In this difficult moment for Colombia, the ELN reaffirms the irrevocable decision of passing to the public phase and fulfilling the agenda agreed in March,” the rebels said on Twitter.
These talks, which were agreed on last March, were to be initiated on the condition that the ELN put an end to humanitarian violations such as kidnapping, however, they have yet to release all their hostages.
According to the ELN Peace Delegation Twitter account they are looking for ways to “remove violence from their political fight.”
The premature resumption of ELN attacks comes at the worst possible moment as the rejected referendum on the FARC peace deal plunged Colombia into a political and public security crisis.