The epicenter of Colombia’s armed conflict is moving from the southwest to the north of the country, following the death of FARC leader “Alfonso Cano” and the appointment of his successor “Timochenko.”
According to Nuevo Arco Iris, an NGO monitoring the armed conflict, the Catatumbo region in the Norte de Santander department was the second-most violent region in 2011 after the troubled Cauca department, with 250 versus 323 guerrilla attacks.
Following the death of FARC leader “Alfonso Cano” in Cauca and the appointment of “Timochenko,” who is thought to be located in Catatumbo, the northern region has seen a surge of guerrilla attacks on oil infrastructure and government forces.
Between Friday and Sunday, alleged FARC guerrillas carried out six attacks in which five people were killed. Among the casualties were at least two civilians.
The FARC offensive in the northern department of Norte de Santander continued Monday with two bomb attacks, causing significant damage to security force facilities, but no reported casualties.
The Colombian army has increased its military capacity in Catatumbo, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon confirmed.
“We are entering [Catatumbo] with determination; the option [the FARC] chose was to commit terrorist attacks that affect the population,” Pinzon said in an interview Tuesday.
According to Pinzon, the increase in troops in the region had been implemented with the aim of closing the region off from Venezuela and decreasing the illegal import of oil. The jungle region is known to be used by drug traffickers and guerrillas to smuggle drugs and hide from Colombian forces. The Venezuelan part of the territory is also allegedly used to recover and regroup.
In the El Espectador interview, Pinzon called for patience to allow the security forces to restore order in the region.