On Wednesday, nine Colombian soldiers died and nine were injured as a result of an ambush carried out by the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the municipality of El Carmen, in the department of Norte de Santander.
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In response to the above, President Gustavo Petro called the government peace negotiators to a special meeting on Monday, April 3 to assess the implications of what happened.
"A peace process must be serious and responsible with Colombian society," he tweeted. Subsecuentrly, the Presidency explained that the call to such a meeting does not mean a freezing of the peace talks nor does it imply that the government is going to withdraw from the negotiation.
Two non-commissioned officers and seven military conscripts died in the attack against the Energy and Road Battalion, which was perpetrated with explosives and rifle shots.
The tweet from the Attorney General's office reads, "We condemn the attack perpetrated by the ELN against a Colombian army platoon in Catatumbo, Norte de Santander, in which 9 soldiers died. We stand in solidarity with the victims and their families. Colombians deserve a country at peace."
In statements to the press, Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez said that the Monday meeting will address details of the attack in Catatumbo, which "seems to be a contraction with the aspirations for peace."
The Catatumbo region, which covers a dozen municipalities in Norte de Santander, is one of the Colombian areas where there are extensive coca crops.
Various armed groups operate over there. Among there are drug gangs, the ELN's Camilo Torres Front, and the 33rd front of the dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).