Colombia’s last remaining rebel group, the ELN, allegedly killed two police officers and bombed an oil pipeline in the northeast of the country on Sunday amid stalled peace talks.
A hit-and-run attack on the policemen took place on a road near Yopal, the capital of the Casanare province.
According to authorities, the two policemen were shot dead by a man and a woman passing by on a motorcycle.
Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo accused the ELN of the attack and said the group was challenging people’s faith in their intentions during the planned, but delayed peace talks.
After the attack, the assassins fled to an area of ELN influence, leading to suspicions of their involvement.
Authorities are offering a $16,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the killers.
Also on Sunday, the Trans-Andean oil pipeline was bombed in the southwestern Nariño province, where oil has now spilled into the Guiza river. According to the military, the attack was carried out by the ELN’s
Juan Camilo Restrepo, the head of the government’s negotiating team with the ELN, said the bombing that took place a 100 meters from a school was “clumsy.”
Instead of building trust, acts like this weaken it.
Juan Camilo Restrepo
The attacks further put pressure on the peace talks with the group that were supposed to begin this month, but were indefinitely delayed after the ELN failed to release a hostage whose release according to the government was a condition to initiate talks.
The ELN has denied this, claiming the former congressmen wouldn’t be released until after the beginning of formal talks in Quito, Ecuador.
In return, the rebels want the government to release guerrillas who were supposed to be released simultaneously with former House Representative Odin Sanches from prison
“The ELN is showing that it has no desire for peace” said Interior Minister Juan Cristo.
The ELN has neither claimed nor denied responsibility for the attacks.