FARC Responsible for Kids Bombing Deaths, Venezuela in Joint Operations with ELN Rebels-HRW

Colombian President Ivan Duque speaks after casting his vote during congressional and presidential coalitions elections that will determine which candidates will head to the first round of presidential voting, in Bogota, Colombia March 13, 2022. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez
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BOGOTA, March 28 (Reuters) – Colombian President Ivan Duque on Monday accused former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) who reject a peace deal of setting off explosives at a police station which killed two children and injured 39 others in Bogota.

The Saturday night attack was the worst in the capital since another rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), killed 22 police cadets with a car bomb in 2019.

“We are filled with sadness at the death of Ivanna Rangel, victim of cowardly terrorism by the FARC dissidents,” Duque said on Twitter of the 5-year-old girl, who died early on Monday of her injuries. “We will not rest until we find those responsible for this atrocious attack.”

A 12-year-old boy, Daniel Stiven Duque, also died of injuries sustained in the explosion in a working class neighborhood in the south of the city.

Preliminary investigations indicate the attack was ordered by dissident leader John Mechas, national police director General Jorge Luis Vargas said in a video. Mechas took responsibility last year for ordering both an attack against Duque’s helicopter and a car bombing at a military base in the eastern city of Cucuta. read more

There are two groups of FARC dissidents who reject the 2016 accord with the government, which formally ended the rebels’ participation in a 60-year internal conflict.

According to security sources, the groups, who fight the government as well as each other, count a total of 2,400 combatants and are involved in drug trafficking and illegal mining.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb Editing by Matthew Lewis


Venezuela in Joint Operations with ELN Rebels-HRW


BOGOTA, March 28 (Reuters) – Venezuelan security forces have carried out joint operations with Colombian rebel group the National Liberation Army (ELN) against former members of the FARC rebels who remain armed, advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday.

The operations have been carried out along the porous border between the countries, which divides the Colombian province of Arauca from the Venezuelan state of Apure, HRW said in a report.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) demobilized under a 2016 peace deal with the Colombian government, but some former fighters reject the accord and formed dissident groups Colombian authorities say are involved in drug trafficking and illegal mining.

At least 103 people were killed in Arauca in the first two months of this year amid violence between armed groups, which also forced thousands to flee, the report said. The figure is the highest for Arauca for January and February since at least 2010.

The ELN and dissidents commit murders, forced recruitment of children and displacements, HRW said, adding Venezuelan security forces are sometimes complicit with ELN abuses.

“Armed groups are committing brutal abuses against civilians in the Colombia-Venezuela border area, in some cases with the complicity of Venezuelan security force members, while Colombian authorities haven’t done enough to respond,” said Tamara Taraciuk Broner, acting Americas director at Human Rights Watch.

“Colombian authorities should urgently ramp up their efforts to protect the population and assist displaced people.”

The Venezuelan Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At least 3,860 people have been internally displaced in Arauca and more than 3,300 have fled Venezuela for Arauca and Vichada, another Colombian province, since combats began, HRW said.

Colombian President Ivan Duque has increased troop presence in Arauca – an oil-producing region – but HRW says the effort has fallen short. read more

The government in Bogota accuses Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro of harboring dissidents and the ELN, something Maduro has repeatedly denied.

Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota; Additional reporting by Vivian Sequera in Caracas; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Andrea Ricci
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