Colombia's Cano-Limon Covenas Pipeline Suspended After Attacks from Leftist Group ELN
The National Liberation Army, Colombia's second largest leftist group, has attacked the Cano-Limon Covenas pipeline.
The ELN's two bomb attacks have suspended pumping operations along the Cano-Limon Covenas, which is the country's second most important oil pipeline, according to state oil company Ecopetrol's statement on Monday.
Police and military sources said that the ELN's twin attacks occurred over the weekend in rural areas situated in northern Norte de Santander and Arauca provinces.
The pipeline, which extends 485 miles (780 km), can transport up to 210,000 barrels of crude each day from oil fields operated by Occidental Petroleum to Covenas' Caribbean port. Occidental Petroleum is located near the U.S.-Venezuela border.
In February, the ELN blew up a transmission tower near Aguachica, a city in Cesar province. According to 5th Brigade commander Gen. Heider Giraldo, the attack left three cities without electricity. Aside from Aguachica, the cities of Gamarra and Morales also had their electricity supply cut off due to the attack.
Attacks on oil installations initiated by the ELN are no surprise. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, has stopped its attacks on pipelines since a unilateral ceasefire for a peace deal began in July between the group and the Colombian government.
ELN Recruits FARC Dissidents
The ELN has been recruiting deserting FARC guerillas into their group, according to Colombia Reports. Those who are being recruited are reportedly FARC's low-level commanders and guerrilla fighters who oppose the peace accord or are unsure about their future lives as civilians.
Both the ombudsman and indigenous organization ONIC said that the ELN is taking over areas that were previously held by the FARC.
Indigenous groups in numerous parts of Colombia have discovered propaganda material from the ELN in their areas.
"Since the Farc declared its unilateral ceasefire [in December 2014] we have begun to see evidence of presence of the ELN in areas of Vale del Cauca, Norte del Cauca, Choco and Narino where they had never been," ONIC head Luis Fernando Arias said in February, as quoted in BBC's report. "So people began to ask themselves if there had been a change of command."
Camilo Gonzalez, a conflict expert, said that the Colombian government should push through with a peace deal with the ELN. If not, the rebel group could increase its numbers and disrupt the government's ongoing peace talks with the FARC.
Sources claimed that the ELN's military commander, called "Pablito," is building his group into a national guerrilla, a position that was previously occupied by the FARC.
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