Hostile actions attributed to the FARC, Colombia’s largest rebel group, increased in the month of May as rebel and government negotiators remain seated in Havana, Cuba to put an end to nearly half a century of armed conflict.
According to a compilation of national, local and regional media, FARC rebels carried out 52 registered attacks against various targets during May, an increase compared to last month, when there were 42 registered attacks.
Rebel attacks throughout 2013
The department most affected by rebel violence was Norte de Santander, located in the north of the country and bordering Venezuela, where rebels from the FARC or the smaller ELN rebel group launched twelve attacks. In May, eight attacks against oil pipelines were registered; seven of them in Norte de Santander and all of them committed by FARC rebels.
The second most affected department in terms of guerrilla violence was Antioquia, located in the northwest of the country, where ten FARC attacks were registered. In this department, FARC rebels reportedly clashed with members of the neo-paramilitary group Los Urabeños in the gold-producing El Bagre municipality.
FARC/ELN attacks in May
Traditionally, the central Meta department has been one of the most highly affected by FARC violence. However, during the month Colombia Reports recorded only one hostile rebel action in this part of the country. The trend in Meta has been continuous during 2013: Although reportedly home to the FARC’s most capable fighting unit, the Eastern Bloc, rebels in this department do not seem willing or capable to confront the Colombian armed forces to the extent of previous years.
Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, reached national attention with an ambush in Norte de Santander in which 11 soldiers were killed.
Apart from this, armed ELN activity was limited to the northern Bolivar department and the northeastern Arauca department during the month of May.
ELN rebels have frequently asked to enter peace talks with the Colombian government. In early May, the group’s commander-in-chief, alias “Gabino,” criticized the government’s “silence” on the possibility of entering talks with the insurgents.
In total, 30 members of the Colombian armed forces lost their lives in fighting with FARC or ELN rebels during the month.
As fighting continued in Colombia, FARC rebels and government negotiators reached an undisclosed agreement on agrarian reform in late May. The warring parties will reunite on June 11 to discuss the next point on the agenda; the political participation of the rebels in a future situation of post-conflict.