While the army claims that they are hot on the trail for the left-wing insurgents responsible for kidnapping five people in northern Colombia, the guerrillas on Monday warned that the hunt endangers the hostages’ lives.
Colombia’s second largest rebel group, the ELN, posted a statement on their website saying that while they “will try to safeguard the integrity of the hostages…the vast operation launched by security forces is putting at risk the lives of these people and any unfortunate outcome is the responsibility of the government.”
The statement comes one day after security forces captured four alleged guerrillas in the northern department of Bolivar where the ELN kidnapped five people who were working for a Canadian-based mining company.
The ELN website also outlined the rebels’ demands which focused on improved — or stricter — regulation and taxation of mining companies. The guerrillas also called for a national debate regarding the government’s mining policy. They also called for the legalization of small mining, which the government has previously claimed is a source of income for the ELN.
The statement went on to say that “the ELN reaffirms its unwavering desire to travel the roads of peace with social justice, and reaffirms its readiness for a political settlement of the social and armed conflict.”
The ELN are not taking part in the peace talks currently happening between the Colombian government and the country’s other guerrilla group, the FARC.