Colombia’s Air Force reportedly bombed a FARC dissident camp on Tuesday after fighting between guerrillas and paramilitaries displaced hundreds in the north of the country.
The bombing in the north of the troubled Antioquia province was part of a military offensive against FARC dissident Ricardo Abel Ayala Orrego, also known as “Cabuyo,” whose group of rearmed guerrillas allegedly killed three Continental Gold workers in the area two weeks ago.
With three dissidents confirmed dead already after a military standoff, authorities are investigating to see if Cabuyo is among those killed in the strike in the hamlet of El Cedral in Ituango.
The area has been pulled back into armed conflict over the past year just as locals thought peace was around the corner.
Hundreds of locals were forced to flee the area amid fighting between Cabuyo’s 36th Front and paramilitary group AGC last week.
“People are very worried. People are afraid to go out and armed groups now say people can’t move around at night,” an anonymous resident told Colombia Reports in February already.
The security situation in the region has only worsened since.
Despite the groundswell of violence and displacements, Ituango’s mayor told newspaper “El Colombiano” that the government had the violence under control.
“The troop arrived at dawn and everything is returning to normal,” Henan Alvarez said last week. “There are even people developing agricultural activities in the area.”
In Ituango and nearby municipalities – including Valdivia and Yarumal – Colombia’s Information Management and Analysis Unit has documented over 58,000 civilians affected by the recent violence.
The rearmament of the area comes at a time in Colombia where peace remains on shaky ground. After President Ivan Duque was elected into office in June, campaigning against a peace deal signed by his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos, reports of rearmament by FARC guerrillas have been in an uptick.
Violence, especially in the countryside, has shot up as well.
The peace process has descended into crisis over the state’s failure to assume control over former FARC-controlled territory and the mass killing of social leaders and demobilized guerrillas. On Monday, two missing FARC leaders said that the peace process “has been destroyed.”
Now, the fate of locals in Ituango remains uncertain as a growing wave of violence claims the territory once again and there is no saying if the government is able to guarantee security.