Guerrilla fighting kills at least 23 in Colombia


The UN is overseeing the FARC's disarmament as part of a peace deal the leftist guerrillas signed with the government to end a more than five-decade conflict.  The FARC's 5,700 fighters are now in camps waiting to be transferred to UN-monitored ZVTN transitional zones where they will demobilize and begin their path to civilian life and legality over a period of six months.  But the delay in setting up the camps has hindered their transfer to these areas.  / AFP / LUIS ROBAYO (Photo credit should read LUIS ROBAYO / AFP via Getty Images)

The UN is overseeing the FARC’s disarmament as part of a peace deal the leftist guerrillas signed with the government to end a more than five-decade conflict. The FARC’s 5,700 fighters are now in camps waiting to be transferred to UN-monitored ZVTN transitional zones where they will demobilize and begin their path to civilian life and legality over a period of six months. But the delay in setting up the camps has hindered their transfer to these areas. / AFP / LUIS ROBAYO (Photo credit should read LUIS ROBAYO / AFP via Getty Images)

Photo: LUIS ROBAYO / AFP / Getty Images

At least 23 dead, four of them Venezuelans, left clashes between the ELN, the last recognized guerrilla in Colombia, and FARC dissidents that they departed from the peace agreement, on the border between the two countries, reported the Colombian Defense Ministry.

“Today we have 23 dead that have been found at this time” in a rural area of ​​the department of Arauca (northeast), said Vice Minister Jairo García after a security council in the area.

During the first days of the year ELN rebels allied with a faction of FARC ex-combatants known as “Segunda Marquetalia” clashed with two other dissident groups.

Dispute originated in Venezuela

It is a dispute that originated in Venezuela and that later had repercussions in different townships of Arauca ”, explained the head of the Defense portfolio, Diego Molano.

Among the 15 bodies identified are four Venezuelans and two people with judicial records in Colombia by carrying arms, one of them a dissident leader known by the alias of “Flaco Fred,” added Molano.

Without a unified command, the FARC dissidents number about 5,200 combatants, the majority (85%) new recruits who were never in the defunct rebel organization, according to the independent think tank Indepaz.

Army: fight to control narcopists

Like the ELN, they fight for the control of illegal airstrips to export cocaine from the border zone, according to Colombian military intelligence.

In the morning, the authorities presented an initial balance of 16 deaths from the fighting.

The conservative president Iván Duque affirmed that “it is also probable that there are civilians” assassinated during the clashes in the department of more than 300,000 inhabitants.

His government attributes the clashes to the 2,200-kilometer “porous border” that Colombia shares with Venezuela, where the government of Nicolás Maduro “allows the assent of illegal armed groups.”

“They have been operating at ease in Venezuelan territory with the consent and protection of the dictatorial regime” of Maduro, the president denounced at the end of a security council in Cartagena (north).

President Duque ordered the defense minister, the military leadership and two battalions to be displaced to the troubled border line, where the public force was the target of kidnappings and deadly attacks throughout 2021.

(With information from DW)

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