The ELN released a statement on Sunday, April 14, declaring a unilateral ceasefire during Holy Week. According to the group, the ceasefire started at 00:00 (local time) on April 14 and will end at 23:59 on Sunday, April 21. ELN leaders stated that during Holy Week, their fighters will only act “defensively” to the ongoing police and military offensive in the region.
The announcement was released following two attacks in Arauca and Antioquia departments. On Friday, April 12, three explosive devices were detonated in Saravena (Arauca department) near the house of a local political leader. The following day, a soldier was killed after ELN fighters attacked security forces operating near Valdivia (Antioquia department). Further clashes between ELN militants and security forces are possible in the region in the near term despite the unilateral ceasefire.
Peace talks between the government and the ELN, which has conducted an ongoing armed insurgency since the 1960s, were put on hold after President Ivan Duque assumed power in 2018. President Duque has previously said he will only resume negotiations with the ELN once the group ceases all attacks and releases all hostages.
Due to the presence of a number of armed groups - including organized crime groups, drug cartels, right-wing militias, and local gangs, in addition to the ELN - some Western governments advise against travel to various parts of the country, including the Venezuelan border region.
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