Attacks by Colombia’s rebel groups FARC and ELN on infrastructure, security forces and civilian targets increased 35% in August compared to the month before, according to Colombia Reports’ conflict monitor.
In August, Colombia’s armed forces and local media reported 76 rebel attacks. Seventy of these attacks were carried out by the FARC, six by the smaller ELN.
The registered attacks left a total of 17 civilians and 18 members of the security forces dead.
FARC attack ELN attack BaCrim attack security forces offensive
Increase in attacks seen country-wide
The FARC and ELN focused their attacks more on the country’s energy and extractive sectors that became both rebel groups’ main target. As a result of ongoing attacks on electricity towers and power stations, hundreds of thousands of Colombians spent time without electricity. Oil and mining companies lost millions of dollars.
Attacks dropped significantly in second half of August
While last month was more violent than July, FARC attacks dropped significantly at the end of August. In the week President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed there had been “exploratory talks” with the guerrillas, the rebel group was only attributed to five attacks. A bomb attack that took place in Cali was attributed to criminals.
Neo-paramilitary infighting in northern Colombia
Reports of infighting between neo-paramilitary groups in the north of Colombia increased in August. Particularly around the city of Santa Marta, regular reports emerged of violence caused by a war between the coastal-city based family of extradited warlord Hernan Giraldo and the “Urabeños,” who seem to be losing their control over Colombia’s Caribbean coast.
The Colombian army reported a high number of operations in the southern departments of Nariño and Putumayo where guerrilla groups frequently attacked oil pipelines. Other departments with a relatively high number of military offensives were FARC hotbed Meta and the department of Antioquia where guerrillas increased their number of attacks, particularly on Hidroituango, a $5.5 billion project to build a hydro-electric dam.