Wave of Violence Strikes Colombia After ELN Ceasefire Ends

Trump received his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos at the White House

Violence erupted across Colombia following the end of a temporary ceasefire with the country's largest active guerrilla group, casting doubt over the future of ongoing peace negotiations amid concerns that the rebels used the break in fighting to strengthen themselves.

In a statement released late Thursday, the Ecuadorean Foreign Ministry said the guarantor nations - including Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Venezuela and Norway - attested that "the two parties have expressed their willingness to overcome this moment and continue the conversations conducive to peace".

Santos responded shortly afterward by recalling his chief negotiator from Quito, Ecuador, where talks had been scheduled...

The bombings against the pipeline, which is Colombia's second-most important, forced the suspension of pumping operations, the government said.

Spiraling violence, particularly between the ELN and government forces, could lead either party to break off the talks.

From the beginning, the Colombian government was skeptical of whether or not ELN leaders could ensure compliance among their ranks if a peace deal were in fact achieved.

State oil company Ecopetrol reported an attack on one of its facilities in a rural area of Casanare province.

Santos said on Twitter that the government was "always willing to extend the ceasefire", but the rebels had "inexplicably refused and today terrorist attacks resumed".

He said Wednesday's attacks occurred in "complex situations" of war and that the group maintained its intention to negotiate a new ceasefire. In a separate attack near the frontier, a sniper killed a Colombian soldier.

Both sides have separately said they want the ceasefire to be extended, but an accord has remained out of reach because of mutual accusations of failure to meet commitments. The government in turn vowed to improve conditions for jailed rebels as well as boost protections for leftist activists in areas dominated by the ELN.

After the signing of the Peace Agreement in Colombia in November 2016, after some four years of talks in the Cuban capital, the United Nations Security Council approved a mission to verify the ceasefire and the delivery of weapons. Before the deal, the group was the biggest in Colombia.

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