At least 17 people were killed within 24 hours by unidentified gunmen in three attacks that took place in Colombia's Nariño, Arauca, and Cauca provinces on Friday, August 21 and Saturday, August 22. Authorities reported that six people were murdered and two others were missing in La Guayacana, a rural area in the municipality of Tumaco, in Nariño. Additionally, five people were murdered in the municipality of Arauca, on the border with Venezuela, and another six people were murdered in the village of Uribe, in the town of El Tambo, Cauca.
The motive for the attacks has not been confirmed, although armed groups linked to the National Liberation Army (ELN) and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidents are known to operate in the areas, as do drug trafficking gangs. The departments of Cauca and Arauca are being disputed by the ELN, recognized as the last guerrilla group in Colombia, made up of dissident FARC members who did not join the 2016 peace agreement and gangs of drug traffickers.
The deaths in the past 24 hours add to the 33 massacres documented by the United Nations so far in 2020 are being investigated by authorities.
Further attacks by armed groups and drug-related violence are possible in the area over the near term.
A peace deal between FARC leadership and the Colombian government was ratified by the Colombian Congress in November 2016, officially ending an armed conflict that killed more than 260,000 people over five decades. However, some dissident ex-FARC militants remain active, notably in the Colombian-Ecuadorian border region. The left-wing guerrilla group ELN and right-wing militant groups are also responsible for violent acts across Colombia, particularly in the border regions. The armed conflict is fuelled by drug trafficking and both left-wing guerrilla groups and right-wing paramilitary groups have close links to the drug trade.
Individuals in or planning travel to Colombia are advised to keep abreast of the situation. Due to the presence of a number of armed groups - including drug cartels, right-wing militias, local gangs, and the ELN guerrilla group in addition to ex-FARC dissidents - Western governments generally advise against travel to various regions of the country, most notably most border areas on the frontiers with Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, and Panama.
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