A policemen was killed in an alleged guerrilla attack Wednesday, the first day of an announced unilateral rebel ceasefire, local media reported Wednesday.
According to Caracol Radio, guerrilla fighters attacked a police station in the northeastern state of Norte de Santander, firing repeatedly at security forces and killing one 30-year-old policemen.
The attack was allegedly perpetrated by members of the FARC or the ELN, Colombia’s two largest guerrilla organizations. If the allegations are true, the attack would violate a unlitareal ceasefire announced by the two groups last week, which officially went into effect Wednesday.
The ceasefire was ostensibly meant as a goodwill gesture by the rebel groups ahead of Colombia’s May 25 presidential elections.
The ceasefire, announced last week by the rebel groups’ central commands, was set to begin May 20 and last until May 28. The Colombian government has not answered calls to reciprocate the temporary truce.
“We [the leaders] order all of our units to cease any offensive military action against the armed forces or economic infrastructure of Colombia,” said FARC Commander Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias “Timochenko,” in a statement released Wednesday.
Wouldn’t be the first time
This is not the first time the FARC in particular has declared a unilateral ceasefire, and if the allegations are true, it would not be the first time they have been unable to keep their promise.
Most recently, the FARC announced it would suspend all military offensives for a month, starting last December 15.
Independent reports subsequently revealed that while incidents of rebel violence did diminish significantly during the “good will” period, they did not cease entirely.
One conflict research group, the Center of Resources for the Analysis of Conflict (CERAC), went on to claim that the incomplete compliance was a result of the “disintegration” of formal FARC command structures, echoing reports from other conflict monitoring groups that the FARC central leadership is no longer in complete control of its various semi-independent blocs.
This is likely a result of United States-aided government offensives to hunt the rebels, which rely on communication intercepts and other tech-based tracking methods. Over the course of the past decade, the FARC has been forced to split into increasingly autonomous mobile command units so as to avoid government persecution.
The fragmentation of the FARC has led many to express concerns over the ultimate potential success of the peace process. The partial ceasefire has been used to bolster arguments that the entire FARC hierarchy is not in agreement over the group’s involvement in negotiations, and that any eventual agreement would be skirted by various elements within the FARC.
No peace amid peace talks
Since peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC began in November 2012, the question of a bilateral ceasefire has been raised repeatedly.
The FARC has advocated for a suspension of hostilities, but the Colombian government has thus far refused to cease its offensive against the rebels.
During the previous attempt at peace talks in the lat 1990s, the FARC used the truce and buffer zone granted them by the administration of then-President Andres Pastrana to recruit troops and restrengthen their position.
The ELN, meanwhile, has called for the start of a formal peace process along the lines of that being extended to the FARC.
Last summer, the ELN exchanged a Canadian hostage in exchange for formal dialogues with the government. The government, however, has so far yet to reciprocate.
Since then, the ELN has launched a rural offensive against the country’s energy infrastructure.
There has so far been no confirmation of the attack from neither the FARC nor ELN. The government has also not made any statement regarding the attack.