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Wave of FARC Attacks Signal Ceasfire Long Gone

By: Thabata Molina - Jun 26, 2015, 9:17 am
The FARC has bombed pipelines and intercepted trucks transporting oil, spilling some 200,000 gallons.
The FARC has bombed pipelines and intercepted trucks transporting oil, spilling some 200,000 gallons. (La Hora)

EspañolThe Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have launched 38 attacks against civilians since it announced the end of its ceasefire with the government 36 days ago, according to an Ombudsman’s Office report released on Tuesday, June 23.

The press release recounts the Marxist rebel group’s latest attacks on the population and notes that most of them have targeted non-combatant civilians, breaching international humanitarian law.

It fails to mention a recent raid at a power plant in the Cauca department, or last week’s bombing of an oil pipeline in northeast Colombia, because authorities could not determine whether the FARC or the National Liberation Army (ELN), a smaller guerrilla, carried out the violent acts.

Colombian authorities also ignored the recent explosion of anti-personnel mines, since, they say, there is no way to determine who set up those devices.

However, the report does include other attacks by the FARC’s Daniel Aldana unit, one of the most active guerrilla groups since the ceasefire ended. The police say this unit is responsible for the two bombings of the Trasandino oil pipeline in southern Colombia.

The unit has claimed responsibility for the interception of 23 trucks transporting oil, which resulted in the spilling of over 200,000 gallons in the southern Colombian department of Putumayo, causing grave environmental damage.

Ceasefire Fallout

The FARC announced the end of their unilateral ceasefire after the Colombian army bombed the guerrilla’s 29th unit in the Cauca department. The air raid killed 27 FARC rebels, including including Jairo Martínez, one of the armed group’s negotiators in Havana, Cuba, where the Colombian government and FARC leaders are discussing the terms of a peace agreement.

On May 27, the guerrilla issued a press release stating it would continue to participate in the peace talks underway in Havana despite suspending the ceasefire. They also demanded an investigation into the attack, claiming that the corpses of the rebel fighters showed signs of execution.

When the FARC announced the suspension of the truce, the Colombian ombudsman warned that the regions of Antioquía, Cauca, Chocó, Arauca, Putumayo, Huila, Nariño, Meta, Caquetá, and Valle del Cauca were at risk due to the rebel’s heavy presence in the area, and predicted such attacks.

The ombudsman’s latest press release also notes that if the raid against the Caño Limón oil pipeline and the anti-personnel mine explosions were included in the tally, the number of FARC attacks on civilians would rise to 50 in just over a month.

Over the last several weeks, the FARC has also carried out several assaults against Colombian security forces, particularly against the police and the army, leaving 15 officers dead.

One of the most high-profile cases involved the killing of Lt. Col. Alfredo Ruíz, in the town of Ipiales, Nariño. On June 12, the guerrilla ambushed him and a colleague with explosive devices while patrolling the area.

Colombia’s Defense Ministry blamed the FARC’s 48th Front for the murder.

The end of the guerrilla’s unilateral ceasefire comes just five months after the rebel group first announced it on December 20, 2014.

Translated by Adam Dubove.

Thabata Molina Thabata Molina

Thabata Molina is a Venezuelan reporter who focuses on public safety, violence, and penitentiary conflicts. She has contributed to national newspapers such as El Nacional and El Universal for 12 years. Originally from Caracas, she now lives in Panama. Follow @Thabatica.