Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, kidnapped a geologist in the northern state of Cesar last Sunday, the Colombian Geological Service (SGC) confirmed in a statement on Tuesday.
Five gunmen kidnapped geologist Andres Felipe Calle Valencia in Curumani, Cesar. With him were four companions who were released a few hours later, according to Barranquilla’s El Heraldo newspaper.
This comes before the National Liberation Army (ELN) declared three days of military strikes from 6AM, July 3 to 6AM, July 6 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of ELN in 1964.
According to the ELN’s Eastern War Front (FGO) commander, Manuel Vasquez Castaño warned that the ELN would be attacking roads, transportation services, and businesses all over the FGO’s jurisdiction in states across northern Colombia, including Arauca, Boyaca, Casanare, Santander, and Norte de Santander.
Valencia is a contractor from the University of Caldas and was conducting fieldwork on advancing maps for faculty to be able to map landslide threats throughout the mountains in northeastern Colombia, according to SGC.
The University of Caldas explained to Valencia’s family and others that they have no money that derives from the inter-administrative contract support, according to Colombia’s RCN Radio.
The ELN is also linked to an attack on an oil pipeline that injured 13 workers while they were attending church mass.
Colombia’s Ministry of Defense wrote in a letter to UN human rights delegate Todd Howland stating, “The indiscriminate attacks with terrorist ends using non-conventional improvised weapons and systematic attempts against the civilian population by illegally armed groups constitute egregious violations of human rights,” according to El Heraldo.
There have been three attacks in the past two weeks on the Caño Limon-Coveñas oil pipeline in the states of Norte de Santander and Arauca.
The ELN announced last month that the group would participate in peace talks with the government in an attempt to end the half-century conflict; however, the rebel group claimed they would not submit to a ceasefire for the duration of the peace talks.
The ELN is the second rebel group to engage in peace talks with the government after the country’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) agreed to engage in a peace process, which began November 2012.
- Comunicado de Prensa 005 de 2014 (Servicio Geologico Colombiano)
- ELN secuestra en Cesar, anuncia paro y comete atentados (El Heraldo)
- Confirman el secuestro de egresado de la Universidad de Caldas (RCN Radio)