Monday, May 16

Five murders in 48 hours leaves a wave of violence on the Colombian-Venezuelan border

Five people were killed in two days in a region in northeastern Colombia bordering Venezuela, the scene of a bloody clash between dissidents from the former FARC guerrilla and ELN rebels, local police told AFP.

Two people were executed on Sunday and another three on Saturday in various municipalities of the department of Arauca, the entity specified.

The circumstances always coincide: selective murders by assailants on motorcycles who flee without being arrested.

According to a local journalist, one of the victims died in the early hours of Sunday at the hands of armed men in a neighborhood of the city of Arauca, the department’s capital of the same name.

At mid-morning, a man was killed in the same circumstances in the center of the neighboring municipality of Arauquita.

The day before, in two separate incidents, two people were executed in the municipality of Saravena.

A fifth person was also killed on Saturday on a rural road between the town of La Esmeralda and the municipality of Fortul, according to the same journalistic source.

Arauca is the scene of a bloody confrontation between the National Liberation Army (ELN, Guevarist), the last recognized guerrilla in Colombia, and dissidents from the FARC (ex-Marxist guerrilla), who broke the 2016 peace agreement.

Violence in the border area has left almost 40 dead since the beginning of the year. A spectacular car bomb attack on Wednesday, attributed to FARC dissidents, targeted a complex of government and human rights headquarters in Saravena. One person died and 20 more were injured.

Following the attack, the authorities imposed a nightly curfew in most of the department.

The situation was especially tense this weekend throughout the area, a traditional guerrilla stronghold. Many inhabitants admit to living “in fear” in the face of the new onslaught of armed groups, observed an AFP team.

Colombia blames Venezuela for the resurgence of violence on the porous 2,200-kilometer border.

According to the conservative president Iván Duque, the illegal armed groups found refuge and protection in Venezuelan lands, allegations that Caracas denies.

Both countries broke diplomatic relations shortly after Duque came to power, in August 2018.

hba/lv/ag



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