A bomb went off in eastern Colombia Sunday, damaging the longest oil pipeline in the country along with three nearby houses, reported national media.
Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group, the ELN, allegedly planted the bomb, which seemed to target a stretch of the Caño Limon Coveñas pipeline near the town of Toledo in the eastern state of Norte de Santander.
According to Caracol Radio, this is the seventeenth attack against the pipeline attributed to the rebels in Norte de Santander this year.
Jhon Jairo Alonso, mayor of the nearby town of Cubara, told the El Pais newspaper on Sunday night that damage was done to houses alongside the pipeline, and that the responsible groups had entered the area from the neighboring state of Boyaca.
“Unfortunately insurgent groups operating in this sector of the state of Boyaca detonated an explosive charge at one of the valves of the Caño Limón Coveñas. At that time crude was not being pumped, so the spill was minimal,” he said.
Nonetheless, local authorities have declared an environmental state of emergency following the spill, which clean up teams are trying to contain before it can contaminate the area’s numerous regional waterways.
Declaration of war against oil companies
|“The explosion, more worrying, caused damages to three very close to the site housing.”|
Last year, the leftist guerrilla group declared “war” on oil companies in Colombia, saying they intended to hurt the pockets of multinationals active in the country.
Though they have repeatedly solicited formal talks with the government, the ELN are not part of ongoing peace talks between the state and Colombia’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC. The guerrilla’s recently renewed offensive against Colombia’s energy infrastructure has been interpreted as a strategy to pressure the Colombian government to initiate a formal peace process with the rebels.
A recent report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), entitled “Left in the Cold? The ELN and Colombia’s Peace Talks,” underscores the dangers of dismissing the ELN as a “negligible threat,” and the urgency of initiating a dialogue in the near future.