Snipers have reportedly killed at least eight members of Colombia’s security forces in the virtually lawless northeastern province of Norte de Santander so far this year.
The province for decades has been a stronghold of numerous guerrilla and paramilitary groups, and drug traffickers, while national authorities have been blamed for chronic abandonment of the region on the Venezuelan border.
The latest victims fell Saturday when snipers opened fire at a police patrol in the municipality of San Calixto. Two policemen were killed in this attack.
Similar attacks in the municipalities of El Tarra and Hacari killed six more members of the security forces, according to La Opinion, the newspaper of province capital Cucuta.
While authorities are believed to have killed the former guerrillas’ leader, “Megateo,” the group continues to exercise strong control over drug trafficking and smuggling activities in Norte de Santander.
The ELN, currently seeking formal peace talks with the government, has stepped up attacks.
The Urabeños have assassinated numerous policemen in the northern half of Colombia.
These groups are a major target for Colombia’s military that has been authorized to carry out bombing raids on all three.
Notwithstanding, the military has been unable to assume territorial control over the region, whose inhabitants have become increasingly hostile to the national government in Bogota.