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11 Feb 2020 | 01:59 AM UTC

Colombia: ELN to hold nationwide armed strike February 14-17

National Liberation Army (ELN) to hold national armed strike February 14-17; military placed on maximum alert on February 10 as a precaution



The National Liberation Army (ELN) is planning to hold a nationwide armed strike from Friday, February 14, through Monday, February 17. According to an ELN statement, the group plans to restrict the movement of vehicles and people during the 72-hour strike. Only ambulances carrying patients and relatives going to bury loved ones will be allowed on the roads. ELN leaders also warned that anyone who violates their order will be targeted, including civilians with military escorts. The strike will begin at 06:00 (local time) on Friday and end at the same time on Monday.

Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo announced on Monday, February 10, that the military has been placed on maximum alert and will prevent any ELN action over the coming days. Security operations targeting ELN members are possible, particularly during the strike. Clashes between soldiers and ELN fighters cannot be ruled out. Associated transportation and business disruptions are also possible.


Peace talks between the government and the ELN, which has conducted an ongoing armed insurgency since the 1960s, were put on hold after President Ivan Duque assumed power in 2018. President Duque has previously said he will only resume negotiations with the ELN once the group ceases all attacks and releases all hostages.


Individuals in Colombia are advised to keep abreast of the situation, avoid all public demonstrations as a precaution, anticipate localized disruptions and a heightened security presence, and obey all instructions issued by the local authorities.

Due to the presence of a number of armed groups - including organized crime groups, drug cartels, right-wing militias, and local gangs, in addition to the ELN - some Western governments advise against travel to various parts of the country.