Suspected National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels have forced the closure of the Pasto-Tumaco highway in Ricaurte (Nariño department) on Monday, July 15. According to police officials, two cars rigged with explosives and were left on the road; the vehicles also reportedly displayed ELN flags. Additionally, suspected ELN rebels planted explosives on a motorcycle on a motorcycle in Mallama on Monday.
A heightened security presence and localized transportation disruptions are likely in the abovementioned area over the coming days. Clashes between ELN militants and security forces are possible in the region in the near term.
ELN rebels have threatened to blockade the region between July 15-18 amid the 55th anniversary of the group's formation. 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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