Instead, the group said in a press statement, it will release the nine civilians, policemen and soldiers without the customary security protocols and neutral parties.
The ELN vowed to release the men almost immediately after they were captured a month ago, but has been unable to come to come to an agreement with the military that would allow a swift release and safe release.
“We have come to the conclusion that the government on the short term will not facilitate an agreement about the [security] protocols for the release,” the guerrilla group said in the statement that was published on Twitter.
Considering this situation, we have decided to carry out the releases by ourselves, at the risk of not counting on the minimal conditions that would allow the best outcome for these humanitarian operations without putting the lives at risk of the members of the Armed Forces we will release, the people involved in this operation and the guerrilla forces that take part.
The ELN said it would hold the authorities accountable if anything happens to the hostages and captives while the guerrillas transport them from their jungle hideouts to civilization. According to the guerrillas, “we will do everything to prevent” anything bad happening.
President Ivan Duque said last week that he would only consider resuming peace talks with the ELN if the guerrilla group releases the kidnapped civilians and captured members of the security forces.
According to the ELN, the authorities however have failed to agree to the presence of the Catholic Church and representatives of guarantor countries of peace talks that have been on hold since August 7 when Duque took over the presidency from former President Juan Manuel Santos.