At least five guerrillas from the ELN, Colombia’s National Liberation Army, were killed during a clash with military forces in the rural department of Antioquia Wednesday.
Violence struck the town of Puerto Raudal, Federal District Secretary Victoria Eugenia Ramirez reported. The conflict erupted between rebel and military forces after police attempted to make four arrests of ELN guerrillas.
At least four ELN militants were arrested during the confrontation as well as between five and seven deaths, local media reported. Other conflicting reports state that six were killed during the gunfight, while eight were captured.
The Seventh Army Division said they are waiting to confirm the number of arrests, injuries and deaths, as the “situation is still developing.” Further information on the incident is expected to be released later this week.
However, Ramirez was able to confirm that one ELN Leader, nicknamed “Paula”, whose true identity is still unknown, was among those arrested. According to Brigadier General Carlos Ernesto Rodriguez, the female fighter was entrusted with ELN’s communications in the area and had a warrant out for her arrest in connection with the “crime of rebellion.”
Since the evacuation of Colombia guerrilla groups, such as the FARC and the ELN in the wake of the Peace Agreements, illegal paramilitary groups have flooded into the regions and continue to enact violence against rural communities.
Over the last year, hundreds of social activists, indigenous leaders, and former guerilla militia have fallen victim to Colombia’s violence which human rights groups have denounced as government negligence towards the terms of the peace accords.
The peace talks between Colombia's government and the ELN began late last year in Quito, Ecuador. The ceasefire was considered a success, but talks were suspended when the ELN attacked the Caño Limon-Coveñas pipeline shortly after the ceasefire expired on January 9.
The National Peace Council was created in 1998 to promote political alternatives to Colombia's internal armed conflicts. In December, the National Peace Committee was created as part of Colombia's National Committee of the Reconciliation and Coexistence National Council (NC-CNPRC) in order to involve Colombia's citizens in the peace process.