Four Venezuelan soldiers were killed and 10 were injured in an attack by alleged guerrillas of the ELN, Colombia’s last standing guerrilla group.
The attack took place in Atures, a town in the Amazonas state that borders Colombia.
According to the pro-government newspaper “Ultimas Noticias,” the members of the National Bolivarian Guard were ambushed by an “illegal group.”
“The attack took place after the soldiers captured Colombian citizen Luis Felipe Ortega Bernal, considered a leader of a guerrilla group. Three other people were detained, including one woman,” the newspaper reported.
According to journalist Pableysa Ostos of “El Nacional,” a government-critical newspaper, Ortega is a presumed ringleader of the ELN, whose “Eastern War Front” is active on the Colombian side of the border where the attack took place.
#Amazonas #4Nov El ataque se habría dado tras la detención de Luis Felipe Ortega Bernal, de nacionalidad colombiana y presunto líder del #ELN en la zona.
Según autoridades nacionales en #Venezuela no hay presencia de la guerrilla.Esto deja en evidencia-una vez más-que sí existe. pic.twitter.com/drtOZdYAKa
— Pableysa Ostos (@PableOstos) November 4, 2018
According to Colombian radio station La FM, Ortega is known in the region as “Garganta,” a ringleader of the “Domingo Lain Front.”
The ELN did not immediately respond to the attack. Also national authorities in both Venezuela and Colombia remained quiet about the reported attack.
Venezuela’s national government has often denied the ELN is active on their side of the border while Colombian authorities have accused Venezuela’s authorities of harboring the guerrilla group.
The porous border between the two countries makes it easy for the guerrillas to move in and out of Venezuela and has reportedly been doing so for at least two decades.
Part of the group’s leadership is currently in Cuba for peace talks, but negotiations have been halted by President Ivan Duque who imposed new conditions on talks after taking office in August.
Community organizations, foreign sponsor countries of the talks and the Catholic Church have urged Duque to resume the talks that seek to end more than half a century of armed conflict.
Duque, whose political allies and economical backers already are in trouble over war crimes, has so far refused to talk and has demanded that the ELN first unilaterally ceases fire.