Rebels kill 12 security forces, hold two Colombian soldiers

Colombian rebel group National Liberation Army kills 12 security forces and captures two soldiers after attack in central province of Boyaca

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas (C), Army Forces Commander General Juan Pablo Rodriguez (L) and Police General Director Rodolfo Palomino, speaking during a press conference in Bogota on October 26 2105

Colombia's second-largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN) has captured two soldier after a deadly attack that killed 11 soldiers and one police on Monday in Boyaca province, north of the country, Colombian officials said on Tuesday.

"Two soldiers have been kidnapped," announced Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villages, following President Juan Manuel Santos calling an emergency meeting of his national security council over Monday's attack.

The rebels targeted a convoy that moved election result documents from the country's local and regional elections on Sunday.

The ELN obtains its primary income from drug trafficking and the two groups, the ELN and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), both say that they represent the rural poor against Colombia’s wealthy upper class, the privatisation of natural resources, multinational corporations and rightist violence.

The ELN has been fighting the Colombian government since 1964 and has carried out a range of recent attacks while the government closes in on a peace deal with the other rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Following Monday's attack, three troops were reported injured, and officials are continuing their search for a policeman and a guide from the indigenous U'wa group, who have gone missing.

Meanwhile, the army later announced that three rebels were captured during an anti-ELN operation, in the same region.

"First results: three captured, including one wounded," General Alberto Mejia shared his message on Twitter.

The ELN has about 2,500 fighters, a smaller number than the FARC's 7,000. And the government has been engaged in exploratory talks with the ELN since January 2014 but a formal peace process has not been opened.

The Colombian conflict has been responsible for the deaths of 220,000 people and has uprooted six million, since it broke out in 1964.

TRTWorld and agencies