Twenty-three percent more policemen and soldiers were killed so far this year compared to 2018, according to a report by conflict monitor CERAC.
The murder of a second Army corporal in the northwestern Antioquia province on September 10 brought the number of killed security officials to 88 this year alone, marking a significant increase from 2018.
A greater increase (29%) has been recorded in relation to the injuries of the Public Force in the first nine months of the year with 289 reports compared to 161 in 2018, in which the military reported the lowest number of casualties and injuries in decades.
This year’s increase in casualties and injuries is the result of the army “favoring the production of results in terms of activity, a situation in which they neglect their own security,” Jorge Restrepo, director of CERAC, told El Tiempo.
Controversial National Army chief General Nicasio Martinez ordered all units to double its reported kills and captures in January despite the demobilization of the country’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC, in 2017, when 83 members of the security forces were killed.
Restrepo also pointed out that increasing violence between drug trafficking paramilitary groups has left both the civilian population and the security forces exposed to retaliation, citing Antioquia as an example.
“And there is a third factor related to the breakdown of negotiations with the ELN, which has led the guerrillas to increase their illegal activities in their area of interference, which forces them to act with greater force against the Public Force,” explained Restrepo.
While a January bombing attack in the capital Bogota by the ELN killed 22 cadets, the CERAC report indicates that there has been a significant increase in stealth operations through which the Public Force is being targeted.
There has been an increase in “attacks on Public Force patrols with snipers or explosives, which explains the majority of recent victims, both fatal and injured, and the majority of the increase.”
Security forces personnel deaths went from 488 to 83 between 2010 and 2017, mainly as a result of peace negotiations with the now-demobilized FARC guerrillas. Last year, 96 soldiers and policemen were killed as violence got worse.
Injuries among security forces personnel plummeted from 2,599 to 819 last year.
The report indicates that the latest upsurge in violence is concentrated in six regions of the country, namely, Arauca, The border between Antioquia and Cordoba, Norte de Santander, the north of the Cauca province and Nariño.
In these areas, the activities of illegal mining, extortion and drug trafficking are most prevalent.
The report also indicated that violent activities by FARC dissidents, or organized residual armed groups, against the security forces ”minimally” affected the number of deaths or injuries reported this year