During the first week of August, FARC and ELN rebels launched a total of nine attacks, killing one civilian and injuring several policemen, according to statistics compiled by Colombia Reports.
“What they are striving to do is to keep the zone in backwardness and underdevelopment, they have attacked the population. They count on the benefit of a porous border which surely allows them to move with certain confidence,” said Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon in response to the recent surge in rebel attacks.
The oil-rich Arauca department has increasingly been the target of guerrilla attacks in the past few years. Colombian authorities claim many of these attacks have been planned from the Venezuelan side of the border with Arauca, where the mid-level ELN commander “Pablito” and the leader of the FARC’s 10th Front, alias “Efren Arboleda,” are believed to be hiding.
The government claims 90 FARC rebels have been captured in the department in the first half of 2012, while citing 16 more that have 16 voluntarily demobilized.
On Monday, pamphlets allegedly issued by the neo-paramilitary network Aguilas Negras (Black Eagles) heralded “war until death” against the FARC and ELN units active in the department. The network said they would start the war due the increase in rebel activity.
According to the BBC, some 500 FARC rebels were active in the department as of 2011.