The two Ecuadorean soldiers injured by armed men at the border with Colombia were flown to Quito’s military hospital for treatment today.
Ecuadorean Minister of Defense Patricio Zambran reports that the soldiers - Jorge Franco and Virgilio Navarro - are stable. One of them was injured in the foot, the other suffered trauma to his back during the attack. Military officials say they were shot with "artisanal ammunition."
The Ecuadorean soldiers found themselves in a skirmish at the Colombian border in the province of Esmeraldas near the city of San Lorenzo along the Pacific coast on Sunday.
According to the Ecuadorean armed forces, the attackers are supposed former FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) members.
Army commander Edison Narvaez says the soldiers were "patrolling Ecuador’s border when they were surprise attacked by those guarding a coca plantation on Colombia’s side."
One of the Colombian shooters was captured and taken into custody for questioning. Ecuador's military officials haven’t given word on the status of the investigation.
Zambrano tells reporters that the military "had problems with FARC dissidents and criminal groups (at the border) who feel trapped, who feel pressured and opened fire from the Colombian side."
The decades-old FARC guerrilla movement formally disarmed in June 2017 after reaching a 2016 peace agreement with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. FARC members gave up more than 7,100 of their weapons, formed a political party and a former guerrilla leader, Rodrigo Londoño, even announced his presidential candidacy earlier this month for the May polls.
However, an estimated 700 former FARC combatants have refused to take part in the peace process.
Sunday’s incident was following another the day before when the Ecuadorean army reported "aggression from various unidentified elements" in the same border region. One of Saturday’s aggressors was also captured, but authorities could not identify where he was from. Military reinforcement was immediately sent to the area.
Both weekend attacks happened in the same community near San Lorenzo where, on Jan. 27 a car bomb explosion just outside of a police station left 28 injured, among them civilians and police officers.
Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno called a state of emergency in the San Lorenzo and surrounding border zone after the January explosion.