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Colombia: ELN releases kidnapped Dutch journalists June 23

National Liberation Army (ELN) announces the release of two Dutch journalists on June 23 who were kidnapped on June 19

TIMEFRAME expected from 6/24/2017, 12:00 AM until 6/25/2017, 11:59 PM (America/Bogota). COUNTRY/REGION Caribbean coast

Event

The National Liberation Army (ELN) announced on Friday, June 23, it had released two Dutch journalists it previously kidnapped on June 19 in El Tarra, Norte Santander. According to the group, the reporters were released in good condition. It is unclear what role, if any, government authorities played in their release.

Context

ELN militants reportedly detonated a roadside bomb targeting members of the Colombian military near Tame on June 15. The attack resulted in one death and three causalities. ELN, the country's second-largest rebel group, is particularly active in rural areas in Arauca, Boyacá, Norte de Santander, La Guajira, Cesar, Bolívar, Casanare, Santander, Chocó, Cauca, Nariño, and Putumayo departments. Attacks in Bogotá are rare.

These incidents, and other similar attacks carried out in recent months, do not seem to be jeopardizing ongoing peace talks between the ELN and the government, launched in February 2017.

Violence carried out by numerous armed groups in Colombia (leftist guerrillas, organized crime groups, narcotraffickers) typically targets security forces, infrastructure, and the fossil fuels industry; however, civilian casualties do occur.

Advice

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 - many Western governments advise against travel to various regions of the country (particularly rural areas), with the notable exceptions of the northern Caribbean regions and central areas (including Bogotá).

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