Guerrilla terror triggers curfew in northeast Colombia

Damage after a car bomb attack in the town of Saravena.

Ongoing violence attributed to guerrillas triggered the government to declare a curfew in a rebel-controlled region in northeast Colombia on Thursday.

Defense Minister Diego Molano said Thursday that he supported the proposal of the governor of Arauca to declare a curfew in four municipalities in the west of the province.

The latest measures followed the alleged arrival of more than 600 soldiers to guarantee security over the past week.

The victims

More than 41 people have been assassinated in western Arauca so far this year after ELN guerrillas declared war on regional dissidents of now-defunct guerrilla group FARC.

A doorman was killed and five community leaders were injured in a car bomb attack in the town of Saravena on Wednesday.

More than 1,500 people have fled their homes in Arauca over the past two weeks, the United Nations’ humanitarian agency OCHA said Thursday.

Displaced families have also arrived from the Venezuelan side of the Arauca river in the north of the province, according to OCHA.

Arauca is in the middle of a war. We are scared. The horrible night does not come to an end in our land.

Community leader Mayerly Briceño

The war

The ELN, which is the de facto authority in the long neglected province, said that it had declared war on the 10th Front, a dissident FARC group, earlier this month.

According to the guerrillas, the FARC dissidents are collaborating with the National Army and the US Government.

Social organizations from and community leaders from the region have urged the rival groups to negotiate peace and abstain from attacking civilians.

The far-right government of President Ivan Duque stepped up militarization in Arauca but without effect.

The resistance

Organizations from Arauca and the capital Bogota have been organizing anti-war protests for Sunday.

In the war-torn region, spontaneous protests against the violence have been ongoing since the beginning of the turf war.

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