The ELN, Colombia’s last-standing guerrilla group, has killed five soldiers and injured another 10 in a roadside bomb attack near the Venezuelan border, the army said Tuesday.
The 1AM attack on an army convoy took place between Tibu, a lawless coca-growing region, and Cucuta, the capital of the Norte de Santander province, according to the 2nd Division.
“We reject these cowardly and indiscriminate attacks that risks the life of our troops and civilians traveling through the area,” the military division said in a press release.
The use of improvised explosive devices are “explicitly prohibited by International Humanitarian Law,” the army stressed.
The deadliest attack since the bombing of a police station in the northern city of Barranquilla took place while peace talks and a ceasefire are suspended.
The government and ELN failed to agree on the extension of a ceasefire that ended in January after three months of relative peace.
President Juan Manuel Santos wants the guerrillas to refrain from attacks to allow the resumption of talks that would allow a bilateral ceasefire.
The ELN, however, has stepped up attacks in an apparent attempt to force the government’s arm and agree on a new ceasefire that would include increased protection of social leaders.
The violence perpetrated by guerrilla and paramilitary groups is putting enormous pressure on a peace process with the FARC, a former guerrilla group that demobilized 14,000 people last year.
The state has failed to provide security in areas previously controlled by the group, which has led to fighting between other illegal armed groups vying for control in these lawless regions.
The FARC and ELN were both founded in the 1960s to combat what they consider an illegitimate state system that is controlled by corrupt elites.
The violence between the state, the guerrillas and far-right paramilitary groups has cost more than 265,000 Colombians their lives. More than 7 million have been displaced by the violence.