The guerrilla forces captured the two soldiers after staging an attack against the national forces guarding electoral missions in rural Boyaca, leaving 11 other soldiers and one policeman dead.
In addition to the two soldiers, an indigenous U’wa community guide has also been reported disappeared since Monday morning. The U’wa Council has requested the involvement of a human rights commission in the investigation of the area.
Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas stated authorities have begun operations in the violence zone in efforts to rescue the two men and further, to seize those responsible for the terrorist acts.
“It is an act of terrorism against the Public Forces and against the electoral branch,” declared Villegas.
The military leadership attended a special Security Council with Santos to investigate the dynamic of the confrontation, which marred an election day in Colombia characterized by many sectors as the most peaceful in history.
In a tweet, Santos referred to the Security Council, announcing that he ordered “an intensified crackdown against those who do not take the path to peace.”
Santos’ administration is currently in the midst of exploratory peace talks with the ELN, but the killing of the 12 soldiers doesn’t appear to bode well for progress between the two parties.
The Security Council in Bogota also took stock of operations throughout 2015 made against the ELN. According to their data, 42 ELN fighters have been killed and 376 more neutralized so far this year.
Defense Minister Villegas stated that in the ELN hierarchy of those that have been neutralized are alias Marquitos of the Dario Ramirez front; alias Reno of the Jose Luis Solano front; and alias Ecuador of the Jose Maria Becerra front.
Additionally, national security forces have been able to seize 113 rifles, 17 machine guns and more than 8 tons of explosives from the guerrilla group.