Ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group hit a snag on Wednesday, after a bilateral ceasefire expired at midnight Tuesday and rebel attacks resumed. Although he gave no details, authorities reported a naval guard post had been hit in a grenade attack in the ELN stronghold of Arauca, on the border with Venezuela.
The warring parties agreed to continue negotiating a new ceasefire in support of peace talks that began in February past year.
Colombia's chief government negotiator in peace talks with the nation's last remaining rebel group said Thursday officials are still committed to reaching a new cease-fire agreement despite fresh guerrilla attacks that put a pause on the dialogue.
The United Nations said that its observers witnessed a major improvement for the civilian population in rebel territory since the truce came into effect in October.
ELN guerillas were accused of violating the accord in two separate incidents that left a total of 14 people dead, including an indigenous leader. The two sides were planning to have talks in Ecuador next week but it looks like that will be cancelled.
The ministry said on Twitter that the nation's military has been ordered to resume operations against rebels "with full intensity and force".
A pact with the ELN would close the last chapter of a half-century conflict in the South American nation, following a deal struck by Nobel Peace Prize-winning Santos in November 2016 with the much larger FARC insurgents. "But peace comes with a will and concrete acts of peace, not just words", said Santos. The ceasefire did not continue as reports say the rebels want a new deal with the government.
The attacks threaten future negotiations for peace but the negotiator of the group said the attacks happened in complex situations of war. The government in turn vowed to improve conditions for jailed rebels as well as boost protections for leftist activists in areas dominated by the ELN.
"I would like to assure you that the government is not walking away from peace", Naranjo told the council. They recently relaunched as a political party and plan to run in this year's presidential election.
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