Gunmen killed at least ten people and injured several others in two separate attacks in the Nariño and Cauca departments on Sunday, September 20, and Monday, September 21, in a fresh wave of violence in the country's south. In both incidents, the authorities indicated that Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidents were likely to have been responsible for the attacks. On Sunday at least six people were killed in the department of Cauca and another four were killed on Monday in Nariño, according to authorities.
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 department of Cauca is being disputed by the ELN, recognized as the last guerrilla group in Colombia, and gangs of drug traffickers.
The Institute of Studies for Development and Peace (Indepaz) stated that at least 61 killings have been recorded thus far in 2020, with such incidents becoming more frequent in recent months.
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.
Those 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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