(Center for International Policy, 8/14 - From Various Sources)

Colombian Army Launches Offensive Against Rebels


By Luis Jaime Acosta - Friday August 10 1:53 PM ET

BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) - Colombian troops on Friday launched an

offensive against leftist guerrillas in reprisal over rebel attacks that

killed five people and injured 39 others.


The fighting followed the government's suspension of peace efforts with the

country's second largest guerrilla force, the National Liberation Army



Backed by helicopter gunships, some 2,000 soldiers of an elite battalion

were sent to northern Bolivar province, a stronghold of the Cuban-inspired

ELN, the army said.


The 5,000-member ELN on Thursday detonated bombs and set off a car bomb in

two towns in northern Colombia in its first major attacks since President

Andres Pastrana broke off peace contacts on Tuesday.


In a separate incident on Friday, six ELN rebels died in clashes with the

army in the northern province of Magdalena, the army said.


The ELN and the government had been engaged in dialogue off-and-on since

1999. Colombia is mired in a 37-year-old war pitting leftist guerrillas

armies against the military and outlawed right-wing paramilitary groups.


Pastrana, who is struggling to end a war that has claimed 40,000 civilian

lives in the last decade, suspended talks with the ELN after accusing the

group of being ``obstinate.''


The ELN, which has suffered heavy military losses in recent years at the

hands of the army and paramilitary militias, responded that Pastrana was

paying lip service to peace and said hopes of a deal were ``almost dead.''


Fearing an upsurge of ELN attacks, Colombian authorities have stepped up

security in cities and airports.


The ELN, a 1960s-style guerrilla force fighting for socialist reforms,

routinely targets the Andean country's key oil and energy infrastructure.


The group also has a penchant for spectacular kidnappings, such as the

hijacking of 41 commercial airline passengers and the abduction of 160

churchgoers in Cali, both in 1999.


Pastrana, who has bet his career on ending the war, has been engaged in

peace talks with a larger Marxist rebel group, the FARC, for 2-1/2 years.

The talks have failed to halt violence and the 17,000-member FARC continues

to attack the army.


On Thursday, six soldiers and a civilian were killed after FARC rebels blew

up a military vehicle in Tolima province.



Saturday August 11, 6:04 AM


Deadly days in Colombia following break down of peace talks




BOGOTA, Aug 10 (AFP) -

The Colombian army said Friday it would send 1,200 troops into northern

Bolivar department, headquarters of the country's second largest rebel

group, three days after President Andres Pastrana suspended peace talks with

the group, saying they lacked will to advance negotiations.


Dozens of Colombians have been killed or injured since dialogue broke

down -- but not all of the incidents have been attributed to the

4,500-strong National Liberation Army, or ELN.


On Friday:


A 300-strong rebel unit stormed the impoverished village of Lloro, 540

kilometers (336 miles) northwest of Bogota in Choco department, National

Police chief General Luis Gilibert said.


Gilibert said 30 police officers in the village backed by military airplanes

repelled the attackers, with no police casualties.


Choco governor David Mosquera told reporters one civilian was injured and a

police station was destroyed in the attack, which he attributed to the

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Colombia's largest rebel



The 4,500-strong ELN kidnapped seven people in two separate actions in

northern Bolivar department, on the Caribbean coast, and in Norte de

Santander department, on the border with Venezuela, army sources said.


The army said it had killed six ELN rebels in San Jose de la Bodega, in

Magdalena department.


Authorities were investigating who was responsible for the shooting deaths

of eight farmers overnight Thursday to Friday in the towns of Algeciras and

Pitalito, 450 kilometers (280 miles) southwest of Bogota, in Huila

department, where right-wing paramilitaries are also active.


On Thursday:


A car bomb killed two people in Gramaloto, northeast of Bogota. Army sources

said the ELN was to blame.


The ELN declared a three-day "armed strike" in the oil-producing Arauca

department of northeast Colombia, burning vehicles, blocking roads and

saying any civilian who did not observe the strike would be considered a

"military objective."


Seven soldiers, one civilian and at least 10 guerrillas were killed when

FARC rebels ambushed a military convoy some 250 kilometres (155 miles)

southeast of Bogota, General Hernan Cadavid said. Eight soldiers and five

civilians were wounded.


On Wednesday:


A blast Wednesday in the village of San Francisco, northwest of the capital,

killed three children and injured 42 people.


Friday August 10, 11:39 PM


Colombian rebel group steps up attacks after failure of peace deal




BOGOTA, Aug 10 (AFP) -

Leftist rebels with the National Liberation Army stepped up their attacks

Friday after dropping all dialogue with the Colombian government, declaring

a three-day "armed strike" in the oil-producing region of northeast



"We announce that we have declared an 'armed strike' of three days in

Arauca, and we are not responsible for people or vehicles traveling in the

department," the rebel group known as ELN said in a communique.


The ELN, the country's second-largest rebel group, has stepped up attacks

since President Andres Pastrana's surprise announcement to suspend peace

talks with the group.


The group was blamed for a car bomb Thursday that killed two people in

Gramaloto, northeast of Bogota, and a blast Wednesday in the village of San

Francisco, northwest of the capital, in which three children were killed and

42 people injured.


Meanwhile, seven soldiers, one civilian and at least 10 guerrillas were

killed when rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ambushed a

military convoy some 250 kilometres (155 miles) southeast of Bogota, General

Hernan Cadavid said.


Eight soldiers and five civilians, including three children, were wounded in

the ambush Thursday, Cadavid said.


Cadavid said the soldiers belonged to a unit sent to deal with a rebel

offensive in Cajamarca, in the Tolima region.


He said some of the soldiers were shot in the head as they lay wounded on

the ground. The civilian killed in the clash was driving one of the military

trucks, he added.


Between 10 and 15 rebels were killed in the ensuing combat, the general



Colombia's decades-long civil war has killed some 200,000 since 1964, mostly




Thursday August 9 4:43 PM ET

Guerrillas Cited in Colombia Blast

By MARGARITA MARTINEZ, Associated Press Writer


BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - An explosion killed three children and injured 35

people in a northern Colombian town Thursday in what officials called a

guerrilla attack in retaliation for the government's decision to suspend

peace talks.


Police blamed the leftist National Liberation Army, or ELN, for the pre-dawn

explosion in the town of San Francisco, 110 miles northwest of Bogota. The

blast killed two sisters, ages 7 and 8, and their cousin, a 10-year-old boy.


Nobody has claimed responsibility for the blast, which would be the first

ELN attack since President Andres Pastrana suspended contacts with the group

on Tuesday that were aimed at starting negotiations. Pastrana said the ELN

had been inflexible in its demand for the government to cede a large swath

of land in northern Colombia as the site for peace talks.


``Their only contribution to the country is violence,'' Pastrana said after

the explosion.


Television images from San Francisco, in northwestern Antioquia state,

showed a huge dirt crater and caved-in homes near a police station. Police

said the rebels apparently intended to bomb the station, but it was barely

touched by the blast, which instead damaged 25 houses nearby.


``They put an explosive charge underground, but they miscalculated. Instead

of the police station blowing up, it affected the families and nearby

homes,'' said Antioquia state police spokeswoman Catherine Ernot. ``It is a

retaliation for the breakdown in the peace talks.''


The ELN also staged an attack against the nearby village of Granada early

Thursday, but there were no injuries or damage.


Observers have feared an upsurge in fighting since Pastrana's decision to

break off contacts. When talks with the ELN have broken down in the past,

the group has retaliated with kidnappings, highway blockades and attacks

against the electricity infrastructure.


Colombia's 37-year civil war pits leftist guerrillas from the 5,000-strong

ELN and the much larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC,

against the government and right-wing paramilitary groups.



Saturday, 11 August, 2001, 23:47 GMT 00:47 UK

Colombian troops capture rebels



Three children died this week in rebel attacks


Colombian armed forces have captured 11 rebels from the country's second

biggest guerrilla force, the National Liberation Army (ELN), a military

spokesman said.

The men were caught in the city of Cartagena as the army continued its

offensive against the ELN following the breakdown of peace talks earlier

this week.


President Andres Pastrana broke government contacts with the guerrillas on

Tuesday, accusing them of intransigence.




President Pastrana: Toughened stance with ELN


The rebels responded with bomb attacks, one of which killed three children.


The funerals of the victims took place in the north-eastern town of San

Francisco, where more than 40 people were also injured in an explosion.


The BBC's correspondent in Colombia, Jeremy McDermott, says if the town's

inhabitants are looking for retribution, it seems President Andres Pastrana

is the man to deliver it.





Long criticised for being too soft on the guerrillas, Mr Pastrana has

unleashed a military and political offensive against them.


Some 2,000 men from the elite Rapid Deployment Force have been sent to

Bolivar province - an ELN stronghold.


The government has also revoked the rebels' political status has been

revoked, and arrest warrants for guerrillas leaders have been renewed.


This week's violence was sparked by the Colombian Government's suspension of

peace talks in Venezuela with the ELN guerrillas.




The fighting has killed more than 40,000 people in the last decade


President Pastrana accused the rebels of refusing to move during talks aimed

at opening formal peace negotiations.


Our correspondent says the offensive against the ELN may be a way to give

the army free rein, while preserving the peace process with the biggest

rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).


Although the army has long argued the ELN can be defeated militarily, the

latest rebels attacks show the ELN is unlikely to bow down without a fight.



Colombian military captures 11 rebels during offensive after peace talks

break off




BOGOTA, Colombia, Aug. 11 — Colombia's military said it captured 11 rebels

from the nation's smaller guerrilla army on Saturday during a nationwide

operation against the group following a rupture in peace talks.


The 11 fighters from the National Liberation Army, or ELN, were seized in

the coastal city of Cartagena, navy Vice Adm. Fernando Roman told Radionet

radio station.


Roman said the combatants — among them a commander — were responsible for

extortion, bombings, and kidnappings in the northern region.


At least 2,000 soldiers were also searching for rebels throughout the ELN's

stronghold in the southern region of Bolivar state, said army Capt. Jorge

Florez. Troops were mounting smaller operations in eastern Arauca province.


''There are orders for operations throughout the whole country,'' Florez



President Andres Pastrana broke government contacts with the 6,000-strong

group, the nation's second largest, on Tuesday. He accused its leaders of

refusing to budge during talks aimed at opening formal peace negotiations.


The ELN's leadership blamed the breakup of the peace talks on the

government, saying it lacked the political will to pursue peace.


Talks with the nation's largest rebel army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces

of Colombia, have yielded few results.


Two days after talks broke, presumed ELN fighters bombed northern San

Francisco town, killing three children and injuring at least 35 people. Six

ELN combatants died in clashes on Friday with troops in northern La Bodega.


Leftist guerrillas are fighting the government and a right-wing paramilitary

army in a 37-year civil conflict.


(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)



 © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be

published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




Adam Isacson

Senior Associate, Demilitarization Program

Center for International Policy

1755 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite 312

Washington DC 20036

+202-232-3317 fax 232-3440