Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos ordered his chief negotiator to withdraw from peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) militant group on Wednesday, January 10, after ELN militants launched four attacks on Wednesday morning (local time). The new attacks, reportedly targeting Colombian military forces and oil pipelines, came hours after the existing ceasefire agreement expired on late Tuesday, January 9. Additional low-level clashes between ELN militants and Colombian security forces may occur in the coming days and weeks.
A 102-day bilateral ceasefire between the ELN guerrilla group and the Colombian government expired on Tuesday, January 9.
Peace talks between the ELN and the Colombian government were launched in February 2017. However, the militant group has remained active in the country since the beginning of these negotiations, attacking oil pipelines and military convoys, kidnapping people for ransom, and extorting money from foreign mining and oil companies. The ELN - the country's last remaining rebel group following the demobilization of the FARC - is present in various areas of the country including Nariño, Arauca, Boyacá, Norte de Santander, La Guajira, Cesar, Bolívar, Casanare, Santander, Chocó, Cauca, and Putumayo departments, particularly in rural zones.
Individuals in Colombia are advised to monitor developments to the situation.
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.
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