At least 23 killed amid clashes between armed groups in north Colombia
In Colombia’s northern Arauca area, as many as 23 individuals have died due to clashes between rival guerrilla groups operating in the region. The Attorney General’s office confirmed the casualties, stating that information regarding the conflict is still not fully clear. The office stated that it is difficult to enter the area in which the clashes occurred and therefore, the figures could be incorrect. Colombia’s ombudsman Carlos Camargo stated that the fighting began between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and dissident factions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The former is the largest leftist guerrilla group in the country.
The two groups began fighting in the early hours of January 2, says Camargo. The groups were formed by rebel fighters who refused to enter the Colombian peace process in 2016. The ELN and FARC were reportedly fighting over control of illegal economies such as drug trafficking, says Colombia President Ivan Duque. At least 12 families have been displaced as a result of the violence, and local human rights organizations believe the death toll from the clashes could have been much higher. Human Rights Watch reported that they received several reports of kidnapping and forced displacement.