Unknown assailants attacked a United Nations-led mission that sought to retrieve a weapons cache by demobilized FARC guerrillas in southwest Colombia on Sunday, according to the police.
The attack, which was later confirmed by the UN, took place in Caloto, Cauca, National Police Colonel Edgar Orlando Rodriguez told newspaper El Tiempo.
One policeman was left injured after extra police units were able to deter the attack and remove the UN officials, disarmed FARC guerrillas and policemen from the site of the attack.
The group was attacked by a number of individuals carrying rifles, so our men — the Carabineros specifically — repelled the attack and succeeded to stop the aggression and remove the Mechanism personnel.
A number of illegal armed groups are active in the area around Caloto. Rodriguez blamed the ELN, Colombia’s last-standing guerrilla group, for the attack.
The ELN denied having carried out the attack.
Illegal armed groups active in northern Cauca
- Dissident FARC guerrillas / EPL / “Los Pelusos”
- Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC)
- Aguilas Negras
The injured policeman was taken to hospital with gunshot wounds in his leg and abdomen.
The alleged armed attack is the first on UN peace observers who are trying to remove as many as possible of some 940 weapons caches before September 1, when its mandate ends.
After that, national authorities will be responsible to recover the remaining caches.
Dissident FARC guerrillas kidnapped and released a UN worker earlier this year and have reportedly been operating under the banner of the EPL in neighboring municipalities in Cauca.
At least six family members of FARC guerrillas have been assassinated and three people, including one French civilian, were killed in a terrorist attack in Bogota.
The peace process is additionally opposed by a war-crimes stained political opposition led by Colombia’s hard-right former president Alvaro Uribe.