Left-wing ELN rebels in Colombia claim responsibility for bombing | World news

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s left-wing rebel National Liberation Army (ELN) on Saturday claimed responsibility for an attack in the country’s third-largest city, Cali, which injured more than a dozen police officers.

Members of the ELN carried out the bombing, which was directed against members of ESMAD, the feared riot unit of the Colombian National Police, on Friday evening, as they moved into a vehicle.

“At 9.55pm on January 7, our units carried out an operation against ESMAD (…) in the city of Cali,” ELN said in a statement posted on a website belonging to its so-called urban front. , adding that its members withdrew unharmed.

Both the ELN and the National Police confirmed that 13 police officers were injured in the attack, with police officials saying some were seriously injured. No deaths have been reported.

The attack was condemned by the government and the police, with President Ivan Duque denouncing it as a rebel attempt to influence the presidential elections later this year.

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“Colombia will not bow to or bow to terrorism and our government will never reward terrorists,” Duque said in a message on Twitter.

Colombia offers a reward of 1 billion pesos for information concerning El Rolo, the leader of the urban front of the ELN, and 350 million pesos for information concerning those who planned and carried out the attack, the general said. Jorge Vargas, the country’s top police official. Together, the two awards amount to approximately $ 334,000.

It is estimated that the ELN has some 2,350 combatants and has fought the government since its founding in 1964 by extremist Roman Catholic priests.

Peace talks between the ELN and the Colombian government have been suspended after a rebel bombing killed 22 cadets in 2019.

The government accuses Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of harboring ELN rebels and dissident members of demobilized FARC guerrillas who reject a 2016 peace deal, which the Caracas government has repeatedly denied.

(Reporting by Oliver Griffin and Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by Paul Simao)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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