According to the local military commander, members of Colombia’s second largest rebel groups launched between six and eight home-made mortars to the barracks of the 18th Brigade located inside the city.
Arauca, a city of 80,000 on the Venezuelan border, is at the center of ELN-controlled territory and has long suffered from Colombia’s armed conflict that began in 1964 when groups like the ELN and the FARC formed to overthrow the government.
The FARC began peace talks with the government in 2012 and are believed to be weeks from an agreement with the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos to end their 51-year-long attempted revolution.
The ELN, however, has been stuck in preliminary talks with the government and has stepped up attacks possibly to add military leverage in the negotiations that were announced in June 2014 already.
“This is an attack that shows the mentality of this terrorist group. While the government extends them a hand for talks, the response is ‘tatucos’,” or home-made mortars, Army commander General Alberto Mejia told W Radio.
Tatucos are generally launched using metal cylinders and are infamous for their lack of precision, meaning they could land and explode pretty much anywhere.
The mortars launched at the barracks of the 18th Brigade did hit the army compound and damaged buildings and cars. Fortunately, nobody was injured in the attack.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, the guerrilla attack left the army compound without electricity.
Mejia said the army had launched a counter-offensive to find the culprits of the attack.