National Liberation Army (ELN) fighters ambushed a Colombian military patrol early on Wednesday, June 28, near Teorama, Norte de Santander. The attack left one soldier dead and another injured. Colombian military officials have announced they will continue such patrols to ensure the safety of the local community and called on the ELN to cease such operations as a gesture of peace.
ELN activity, including this and other similar attacks carried out in recent months, continues even as the group engages in ongoing peace talks (launched in February 2017) with the government. ELN, the country's largest rebel group after the recently demobilized FARC, is active in various areas of the country including Arauca, Boyacá, Norte de Santander, La Guajira, Cesar, Bolívar, Casanare, Santander, Chocó, Cauca, Nariño, and Putumayo departments, particularly in rural zones.
Meanwhile, paramilitary crime organizations (BACRIM) such as Los Pelusos have replaced leftist guerrillas as the most serious armed threat in Colombia today, and have become increasingly active in recent months. These groups are involved in a variety of illicit activities, including drug-trafficking, smuggling, illegal mining, extortion, and assassinations. As the demobilization of the FARC guerrilla group progressed (officially completed on June 27), BACRIM groups expanded into the newly vacated territories, leading to violence against security forces and local communities.
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 zones), with the notable exceptions of the northern Caribbean regions and central areas (including Bogotá).
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