Colombia's ELN rebels resume attacks as ceasefire expires

Colombia's ELN rebels resume attacks as ceasefire expires

The warring parties agreed to continue negotiating a new ceasefire in support of peace talks that began in February a year ago.

"I deplore the decision by the ELN to reactivate its terrorist attacks", Santos said in a televised address.

The talks are complicated by a lack of confidence between the parties and upcoming votes to elect a new president and congress. Dissidency from a 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Army Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) continues to be a major concern, and the ELN's more fractured command structure would likely add to that problem.

At the council meeting, the United Nations envoy for Colombia, Jean Arnault, said the clamor for a suspension of military action by the ELN has been unanimous throughout the country, "notwithstanding the many imperfections of the cease-fire". The Security Council reiterated its support for the peace process in Colombia, welcomed Guterres' trip and praised commitment of the government and FARC to the peace agreement. "I think that our government has demonstrated to the entire world that we, in particular our president, are proponents and champions of peace".

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The breakdown of a cease-fire with a left-wing rebel group is threatening President Juan Manuel Santos's goal of delivering peace and an end to Latin America's longest-running war before the end of his eight-year term this August.

His trip was announced Wednesday as the Security Council was meeting to discuss the United Nations mission in Colombia monitoring the 2016 cease-fire agreement that ended more than a half century of conflict between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the largest rebel group known as the FARC.

The possibility that the recent wave of violence might continue or expand casts a shadow over the future of the ELN peace process. The first attack left two soldiers injured.

In the agreement between the two sides three months ago, the rebels agreed to stop their attacks while the government promised to improve the conditions of the rebels that are in jail. The rebels also accused the government of failing to live up to their end of the accord during the 101-day ceasefire.

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