Guerrillas of the EPL said Tuesday that they have captured six ELN members group in northeast Colombia where the two illegal armed groups are fighting.
A video sent to local media shows four men and two women chained together. One of the captive, surrounded by uniformed and heavily armed rebels, read out a statement in which he claimed to be part of the ELN’s Jose Manuel Maria Quiroz front.
“So far, we have been treated well by the EPL, with the hopes that we can put an end to this conflict and see if there is a possibility to exchange the guys you have of us,” the ELN guerrilla said.
These days have not been easy for us, because we are full of anguish without knowing what will happen. We want to return to our area with our families. We ask those in charge to sit down and look for a way out of this conflict, before more wind up dead… We do not understand this war. Stop! Stop!
Alleged ELN guerrilla
Authorities are currently verifying the veracity of the video.
The video was released on the day that the EPL called a unilateral ceasefire in their turf war with their much larger rivals.
The EPL, or “Los Pelusos” as the government calls the group, called on the ELN to end the more than 40 days of heavy fighting in Catatumbo, a sub-region in the Norte de Santander province that has seen more than 150,000 people affected.
The ongoing violence and an economic shutdown ordered by the EPL have paralyzed the 11 municipalities that make up Catatumbo and completely stalled the local economy.
Both armed groups are vying for territory seen as vital for access to coca plantations, oil production and drug smuggling routes that open onto key markets in Central America.
Earlier this month, the ELN kidnapped four people in Norte de Santander for their alleged connection with the EPL, according to newspaper El Tiempo.
The Catatumbo region has lived under guerrilla rule for decades, largely because of state neglect and abandonment.