Armed Strike

Feb 14, 2020

The National Liberation Army (ELN) — a left-wing insurgent group — has announced a 72-hour “armed strike” that will run from 0600 local time (1100 UTC) on 14 February to 0600 local time on 17 February 2020 in areas under its control. The ELN has warned civilians to avoid all road, air and river transportation and threatened to attack those who travel on roads, especially those with military escorts. According to the announcement, ambulances and funeral convoys are exempt from the strike. Security officials have placed the Colombian military forces on high alert ahead of the planned strike, which is a show of force that has been conducted annually in recent years with the exception of during 2019. Such shows of force typically do not affect areas of Colombia outside of the ELN’s control, as it is unable to enforce the strike in those areas.

As evinced during previous such labor actions, the strike is expected to primarily cause disruptions in the departments of Antioquia, Arauca, Boyacá, Cauca, Santander and Norte de Santander. During previous strikes, the ELN primarily targeted key road and energy infrastructure. For example, in February 2018, the ELN conducted 16 attacks targeting Colombian security forces during a similar strike. In total, four ELN militants and two members of the Colombian security forces were killed during the strike, but there were no reports of civilian casualties.

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