Violence continues in Colombia's Catatumbo region as of early November with the murder of peasant leader in Tibú (Norte de Santander department). Two gunmen on a motorcycle shot the president of the Campesino Association of Catatumbo on the evening (local time) of Thursday, November 8. His wife was also seriously wounded in the attack. Further attacks and violent clashes, along with government security operations, are expected in the Catatumbo region.
This is the tenth assassination of local leaders this year as violence continues in the region between rival criminal organizations and government forces.
The Catatumbo region of northeast Norte de Santander is the site of a violent struggle between the ELN guerrilla group (Ejército de Liberación Nacional) and the EPL crime organization (Ejército Popular de Liberación; a.k.a. Los Pelusos). The region was previously controlled by the now-demobilized FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) and produces approximately 70 tons of coca annually. In late October, the government announced the deployment of 5000 additional soldiers to supplement the existing 8000 security personnel operating in the region.
Catatumbo is located in the northeast of Norte de Santander and comprises the following 11 municipalities: Ábrego, Convención, El Carmen, El Tarra, Hacarí, La Playa, Ocaña, San Calixto, Sardinata, Teorama, and Tibú.
Individuals in Colombia are advised to keep abreast of the situation and continue to postpone nonessential travel to the Catatumbo region until further notice. On a more general note, due to the presence of a number of armed groups, some Western governments advise against travel to various parts of the country, including much of Norte de Santander department and other areas along the Venezuelan border.
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