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Colombia’s ELN rebels end ‘armed strike’ after holiday ceasefire

#Colombias #ELN #rebels #armed #strike #holiday #ceasefire

Colombian rebel group ELN has ended the forced confinement of around 10,000 people in the northwest of the country, President Gustavo Petro said Tuesday.

The lifting of the so-called armed strike in the Choco region followed ELN’s announcement on Monday of a “unilateral ceasefire” for the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period, starting December 24 and ending on January 2.

ELN — the National Liberation Army — is in peace negotiations with Colombia’s new leftist government, and Petro — a former urban guerrilla himself — has vowed to negotiate with armed groups in search of “total peace”.

“The armed strike was lifted,” he tweeted, adding that humanitarian assistance would be provided to the affected areas.

Interior Minister Alfonso Prada on Twitter called it “another gesture of peace from the ELN”.

Colombia has suffered more than half a century of armed conflict between the state and various groups of left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers.

The ELN is the last recognized rebel group operating in the country, although dissidents who refused to sign a 2016 peace deal between the FARC guerrilla group and the government also remain active.

Talks resumed with the ELN in Venezuela last month for the first time since 2019 — when Petro’s conservative predecessor Ivan Duque broke off negotiations following a car bomb attack on a police academy that left 22 people dead.

The initial talks have not resulted in a formal ceasefire agreement.

Armed since 1964, the ELN has a force of some 2,500 fighters and a wide network of collaborators, according to independent estimates.

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#Colombias #ELN #rebels #armed #strike #holiday #ceasefire

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