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Country profile for Colombia

Provided Courtesy of Security Exchange 24

Risk Rating

Unselected
Red (High Risk) InTouch advice:

Most parts of the country are dangerous.

Do not travel unless absolutely necessary.

Amber (Moderate Risk)
Amber (Moderate Risk) InTouch advice:

Some parts of the country are dangerous.

Travel with caution.

Unselected
Green (Low Risk) InTouch advice:

Most parts of the country are safe.

Travel freely.

General Information

  • Capital: Bogota
  • Major Languages: Spanish
  • Currency: Peso
  • Timezone: GMT -5:00

Country Map

Map of Colombia

After five years of peace negotiations with the Colombian government, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) completed its full demobilisation following a UN-brokered disarmament process. The negotiations, which took place in Havana, Cuba, coincided with a significant improvement in the security situation in Colombia. However, the peace remains tenuous and has been disrupted by outbreaks of violence. The two sides signed a de-escalation deal in July 2015 in a bid to reach a definitive bilateral ceasefire. On 24 August 2016, the historic peace deal was finally signed by both sides. However, the Colombian public rejected the deal in a national referendum in October.

Despite the referendum result, both the government and FARC have publicly stated their commitment to the agreement.  In November 2016 the deal was ratified by the Senate, and on 28 December 2016, the House of Representatives approved the Amnesty Law. The decision was supported by the Colombian Constitutional Court through a ‘fast-track’ procedure that aims to facilitate judicial arrangements to those not involved in the most serious crimes, such as sexual abuse, crimes against humanity and recruitment of minors. As part of the process, FARC militants headed to special zones across the country to hand over their weapons and be re-inserted into civil society, action which will be fully monitored by the UN Verification Mission in Colombia for an initial period of 12 months. On 1 September 2017 FARC leaders launched their own political party - previously approved by the Congress - named the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force.

However, dissident FARC militants who rejected the peace agreement continue to be active, to varying degrees, throughout several departments in Colombia, especially in Guaviare and Meta departments. Although civilians are not usually targeted specifically, they are often killed or wounded during FARC raids. This is also true with respect to the use of landmines, which are estimated to have killed 10,000 people, mostly civilians, since 1990. Despite demining efforts, the departments most affected by existing mine fields are Narino, Cauca, Arauca and Antioquia.

In March 2016 Colombia’s government announced that it was also starting formal peace talks with the country’s second-largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional, ELN). In January 2017 the Colombian government and the ELN formally initiated peace talks in Quito, Ecuador. The dialogue was previously halted due to ELN’s refusal to release hostages, namely former Senator Odín Sánchez. As part of the third phase of the peace negotiations, the ELN and the government reached a temporary ceasefire agreement ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Colombia in September 2017. Despite the peace talks, the ELN continues to engage in criminal activity, including kidnapping, extortion and drug-trafficking to fund their operations. Most attacks target security forces stationed in departments along the Venezuelan border, such as Norte de Santander and Arauca.

Overall the number of kidnappings has fallen significantly since a peak in the late 1990s, with official statistics recording a 90 percent drop between 2002 and 2014. In February, 2015 the Attorney General’s Office said a kidnapping ring has been broken up by security forces in Choco. The group allegedly sold several victims to the ELN for around $122k each. In urban areas, the main threat of kidnapping comes from local criminal gangs, who are more likely to hold victims for short periods of time for lower ransom demands. These types of incidents are known locally as a “millionaire’s ride” where victims are driven to ATMs to empty their bank accounts before being released. The majority of victims of kidnap for ransom in Colombia are domestic nationals. Before renouncing kidnapping ahead of peace negotiations, FARC militants were responsible for the majority of incidents in rural areas. In April 2017 FARC militants kidnapped five foreign nationals when they were practising extreme sports in Jirijirimo Waterfall in Vaupes department. One month later, a dissident FARC front held a UN worker for nearly two months near Miraflores, Guaviare.

Responding to FARC's demobilisation process, other militant and paramilitary groups have taken over former FARC-held territories. Since 2015 the paramilitary drug traffickers Clan Usuga (later rebranded as Clan del Golfo), have been increasingly active in western Colombia. In April 2016 thousands of people were displaced by fighting between Clan Usuga, the ELN and the Colombian army in the Choco department. The Clan del Golfo suffered a number of losses when the Colombian government launched a crackdown after it started to systematically target security forces.

According to official statistics, violent crimes such as homicide and robbery are falling in Colombia; in 2014 the homicide rate was down 18 percent on the previous year. Despite the improvements, crime levels remain relatively high, and foreign nationals are occasionally victims of serious attacks. In November 2014 an Italian man and his Colombian wife were tortured and killed during an armed invasion in the city of Medellin. In 2012 two US nationals were also killed in separate armed robberies in the city, while in 2013 a US DEA agent was stabbed to death in northern Bogota.  More recently a 22-year-old Japanese tourist was shot dead by armed robbers in Medellin, reportedly after he offered resistance to his attackers. Organised crime syndicates, known locally as Bandas Criminales (BACRIM), also operate in most cities. Street or petty crimes, such as bag snatching and pick-pocketing, are more prevalent in urban areas and on public transport.  Criminals also use drugs, such as scopolamine, to carry out robberies in Colombia.  The drug incapacitates victims for around 24 hours and can be administered via food, beverages and cigarettes.


News articles

By the Guardian

Colombian radio journalist murdered

Radio presenter Edgar Quintero became the second Colombian journalist to be murdered in three weeks on Monday (2 March) when a gunman shot him as he entered a baker’s shop near his workplace.

By Fox News Latino

Colombian journalist murdered after receiving death threats

Colombian journalist Luis Peralta Cuellar, who had received death threats and survived an attack in 2010, was murdered in the southern province of Caqueta, the Press Freedom Foundation, or Flip, reported Sunday.

By INSI

Colombian journalist gunned down

The Colombian journalist Luis Carlos Cervantes, the director of the radio station Morena in Taraza Antioquia, was killed on August 12.

By IPI

Journalist gunned down in Colombia

Colombian journalist Yonni Steven Caicedo was shot and killed on Feb. 19, 2014 after receiving death threats for covering a criminal investigation in the Caldas neighbourhood, located in the coastal town of Buenaventura, in western Colombia, human rights and press freedom groups reported.

View all articles for Colombia

Alerts for Colombia

Police dismantle suspected sexual exploitation ring in Colombia

Authorities have dismantled a sexual exploitation ring in Colombia. CNN Espanol reported that the group owned hotels, resorts and several tourist establishments in Santa Marta, Cartagena, Bogota and Medellin. Prosecutors said that several Israeli nationals were arrested. Attorney General Nestor Martinez said that the network leader, Benjamin Mush, is still at large. Reports suggest that the group mainly sold travel packages to Israeli tourists through promoting sexual tourism in Colombia. The arrests came as part of Operation Vesta - which targets criminal groups engaged in the sexual exploitation of women and minors.

Hundreds displaced due to clashes with the ELN in Choco

More than 300 people have been displaced due to violent armed clashes between the Colombian military and National Liberation Army (ELN) in Choco, north-western Colombia. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the clashes broke out last week in the town of Orpua, located in the rural area of Bajo Baudo. Most of those affected are members of several nearby indigenous communities. Indigenous and afro-Colombian communities in rural areas in Choco are often affected in military operations and territorial disputes involving the rival militant groups.

Clan del Golfo declares unilateral ceasefire ahead of Christmas holidays

Colombia's paramilitary Clan del Golfo have called for a unilateral ceasefire ahead of the Christmas holidays. In a statement released on Sunday, the group said: “We declare a unilateral ceasefire of offensive military action nationally in all of the areas where we are present, between Dec. 8, 2018, and Jan. 10, 2019. We invite all armed groups who are part of the conflict to adopt a similar position to ours, always with the goal of contributing to the cause of peace." The Clan del Golfo has previously launched unilateral ceasefires before major holidays and elections in a bid to engage in peace talks with the government. President Ivan Duque has launched a hard-line approach regarding peace talks with insurgent groups in Colombia. Talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) are stalled as the government demand the release of hostages.

Six lorries set a blaze at ELN blockade in Antioquia

Six lorries have been set ablaze after militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN) erected a blockade in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Authorities said on Sunday that assailants targeted several lorries along the main highway between Medellin and Valdivia. The road was closed for more than six hours before it was cleared for traffic. Further reports revealed that moments later the Colombian military clashed with ELN members in the area around Taraza and Valdivia, near where the blockade was in place. The incident happened in the Bajo Cauca region, where militant and paramilitary groups widely operate.

Hundreds displaced due to armed clashes in Suarez, Cauca

More than 300 people have been displaced due to ongoing clashes between the People's Liberation Army (EPL) and the Colombian military in Suarez, Cauca. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), clashes are ongoing since late-November. Local organisations said that the latest clashes mainly affected rural and indigenous families in the rural area of Cerro Tijeras. Besides the EPL, FARC dissident fronts and paramilitary groups are also known for operating in the area.

Several killed in road accident in Cauca Valley

At least nine people have been killed and scores more have been injured in a bus crash in Cauca Valley. According to the police, the accident happened on Sunday when the chartered vehicle overturned along the road between Buenaventura and Buga. Colombia Reports revealed that the victims were part of a volleyball team which was travelling from Darrien to Yocoto. Preliminary investigations suggest that the vehicle's brakes suffered a malfunction.

Local indigenous leader killed in Caloto, Cauca

A local indigenous leader has been killed after gunmen stormed his house in Cauca, south-western Colombia. EFE reported that Edwin Dagua Ipia was the leader of a local indigenous group in Caloto. His family claimed that he was targeted by drug-traffickers who operate in the region. Edwin was known for coordination anti-drugs efforts relating to the cultivation of coca and marijuana crops. In a statement, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia condemned the attack. Official sources revealed that more than 300 social leaders in Colombia have been killed in the past two years.

Attorney General targeted in Congressional investigation over Odebrecht links

Colombia's lower house of Congress has opened a formal investigation against Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez for alleged links to the Odebrecht corruption scandal. Martinez is accused of covering up several investigations involving high-level officials. He denied any wrongdoing and said that the move is politically motivated. Colombia's Supreme Court has recently nominated a special prosecutor to handle Odebrecht cases after Martinez and his deputy was declared ineligible to lead the investigations. Odebrecht investigations in Colombia have already led to the detention of more than a dozen high-level officials.

Armed criminals kidnap student in Santander de Quilichao, Cauca

A 19-year-old student has been kidnapped in Santander de Quilichao, Cauca. El Pais reported that Dilmar Gomez was abducted on Tuesday evening in La Agustina area. Preliminary reports revealed that the victim was forced into a pick-up truck and taken towards the main road between Cali and Popayan. Gomez is the son of a local tradesman. Kidnappings continue to be common across rural areas in Colombia. Criminals often target community leaders and relatives of local businessmen.

Local candidate targeted in armed attack in Cartago, Cauca Valley

Security measures in the northern town of Cartago have been reinforced after an armed attack killed at least two people on Saturday morning. Local media reported that the attack was a presumed assassination attempt against a local candidate for mayor. The incident happened during a political rally at the town's La Isleta square. Cartago is located in the Cauca Valley, mid-way between Medellin and Cali. President Ivan Duque condemned the attack, while his Defence Minister, Guillermo Botero, said that a reward is being offered for any information leading to the detention of the attacker.

ELN leader detained in Monteria, Cordoba

Defense Minister Guillermo Botero has confirmed that a regional leader of the National Liberation Army (ELN) has been captured in Monteria, Cordoba. Botero said that Edwin Molina Ceballos, alias 'Zarco', was the mastermind behind the death of dozens of soldiers and several community leaders in the northern department. The ELN continues highly active across Colombia and still launch attacks against security forces. Talks with the group stalled after President Ivan Duque took office. His government reiterated on several occasions that talks will only resume once the ELN cease kidnappings. 

Three killed as severe weather trigger landslides in Quindio

At least three people have been killed after heavy rainfall triggered landslides and widespread flooding across western Colombia. Casualties were reported in the town of Calarca in Quindio, where severe weather hit the region over the weekend. Hundreds of families in the neighbouring Antioquia department were also affected, mostly in Copacabana, Bello and Guatape. Landslides also hit the towns of Genova, Buenavista, Cordoba, Pijao, Salento and Circasia. Weather conditions are forecast to improve in the next few days. Travellers are advised to follow updates from the Institute of Hydrology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM).

Indigenous leader killed after armed raid in Ricaurte, Narino

A local indigenous leader and his father have been killed when armed criminals raided a reserve in Narino, south-western Colombia. Colombia Reports revealed that the raid happened in the town of Ricaurte. Paramilitary and militant groups widely operate in Narino and along the Ecuadorian border. The region has also been the ground of operations by dissident FARC fronts. Since the FARC demobilisation, there has been an increasing number of attacks against social and indigenous leaders.

Local lawyer kidnapped near Aguachica, Cesar

A 34-year-old local lawyer has been kidnapped in Cesar department, northern Colombia. Andres Mena was targeted in a rural area between Montecitos and Los Angeles, near Aguachica, where heavily armed criminals raided his farm. The incident came several weeks after a local rancher was kidnapped in the region. The area is located in the so-called Catatumbo region, where criminal groups such as the National Liberation Army (ELN) and paramilitary groups widely operate.

Brother of Clan del Golfo's leader detained in Antioquia

Colombian authorities have detained the brother of alias 'Otoniel', the leader of the Clan del Golfo. Defense Minister Guillermo Botero has announced that alias 'Palillo' was detained in a joint operation in Necocli, Antioquia. Palillo was known for leading the organisation in the northern departments of Antioquia and Cordoba. Palillo was also in charge of the group's finances and cocaine production in northern Colombia. This is the second brother of Otoniel to be detained. In April, alias 'Chengo' was also arrested. The Clan del Golfo is the largest paramilitary group in Colombia. In previous occasions, the group announced intentions to hold peace talks with the government, but they were rejected.

Supreme Court request special prosecutor to handle Odebrecht cases

Colombia's Supreme Court has requested President Ivan Duque assign a special prosecutor to handle corruption cases involving the Brazilian-based company Odebrecht. The request comes after Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez and his deputy, Maria Paulina Riveros, were declared ineligible to assume the case over a potential conflict of interest. Odebrecht investigations in Colombia already led to the detention of more than a dozen high-level officials. The debate reignited this month after the son of a key witness died after he had apparently ingested cyanide - Jorge Enrique Pizano died of a heart attack in Spain just three days before his son.

Presumed FARC dissidents kidnap councilman's son in Cauca

The son of a local councilman has been kidnapped in Inza, Cauca department. El Pais reported that the victim was abducted from the councilman's house in the town of Inza. Councilman Jose Bernardo Guagas told local media that the assailants are presumed to be linked to a FARC dissident front. The incident happened on Wednesday evening. FARC dissident fronts still widely operate across Colombia. They are often engaged in kidnappings, drug-trafficking and armed attacks against government forces. 

Students call for nationwide strike to demand education funding

A massive nationwide strike is set to take place on Wednesday as student unions and associations march to demand more funding to higher education. Protests are expected to take place in more than 30 department capitals across Colombia, while teachers and education workers unions are also joining the protest. Severe traffic disruption is expected to occur in major cities, especially in Bogota. Travellers are advised to remain vigilant and avoid large gatherings as some protests in Colombia tend to turn violent.

Several killed in bridge collapse in central Colombia

At least five people have been killed and several others were injured when parts of a bridge under construction collapsed in central Colombia. EFE reported that the accident happened in a mountainous sector known as Chirajara, on the road between Bogota and Villavicencio, Cundinamarca. It is still unclear what caused the bridge to collapse. In January, nine workers were killed when an overpass collapsed on the same road.

Senate committee requests permission to engage in ELN talks

The Senate Peace Committee has requested the authorisation of President Ivan Duque to engage in negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN). In a statement released on Saturday, senators urged the president to allow them to participate in the talks in Cuba to explore further options to reach a potential peace deal. The request came days after senators visited the restive Catatumbo region in northern Colombia, where the ELN and paramilitary groups widely operate. On previous occasions, President Duque and high-level government officials said that talks with the ELN will only resume when the group cease its operations.

Chinese national killed in armed ambush in Cali

Police are investigating the death of a Chinese national who was shot dead during a presumed armed ambush in Cali. El Pais reported that the victim was a 53-year-old man identified as Lee Wen. According to the police, Wen lived in Cali for two years and worked as a business owner. Reports revealed that Wen and three other men were targeted on their vehicle in San Nicolas. The incident came a day after the public security secretary confirmed that no murder investigations were opened in Cali for at least 24 hours.

Adverse weather may impact flights across Colombia

Colombia's Civil Aviation authority has announced that due to severe weather conditions nationwide, some flights may face severe disruptions. Adverse weather has impacted operations in Bogota recently, while disruption has also been reported across other airports, such as Cali. Travellers have been advised to contact their respective airlines for further flight status updates.

Soldiers injured after landmine blast in Norte de Santander

At least three soldiers have been injured after they entered a minefield in Convencion, Norte de Santander. El Pais reported that the military was carrying out an operation in the Guarsiles Sur area when a soldier stepped onto a landmine. Convencion is located in the restive Catatumbo region, where several paramilitary and militant groups operate. The incident occurred nearly at the same time four soldiers were wounded in a blast in Tibu.

Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline suffers renewed attack in Cubara, Boyaca

Authorities have confirmed that an oil spill was reported in the north-eastern department of Boyaca after a renewed attack on the Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline. According to military sources, the attack happened on Wednesday in the rural area of Cubara. Ecopetrol told Reuters that operations were not affected. The same area was affected in another attack in early-November. Authorities have attributed the latest attack to the National Liberation Army (ELN), but such allegations are still being investigated. Operations on the Cano Limon-Covenas are suspended since mid-August due to successive attacks in northern Colombia.

Explosive device wounds four police officers in Norte de Santander

At least four police officers have been injured while carrying out patrolling duties in Tibu, Norte de Santander. Local media reported that the incident happened on Wednesday morning when an explosive device went off. Tibu is located in the restive Catatumbo region, where paramilitary and militant groups widely operate.

President Duque to cut diplomatic relations with Venezuela

President Ivan Duque has announced that all diplomatic relations with Venezuela will be cut in January as his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, starts a new term in office. President Duque has accused the Venezuelan government of aiding militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN), allegations that Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez dismissed. President Maduro was re-elected in May after calling for early elections. The process was condemned by the international community, which is widely expected to sever diplomatic ties with the country.

Foreign ministry calls for arrest of ELN commander in Cuba

Colombia's foreign ministry has called the Cuban government to arrest a commander of the National Liberation Army (ELN) that is believed to be in Cuba. Nicolas Rodriguez, alias 'Gabino', has been recently nominated to take part in the ELN peace talks with the government in Havana. Colombian authorities called their Cuban counterparts to enforce an Interpol Red Notice to capture and later extradite Gabino back to Colombia. Earlier this month, the Colombian government called Cuba to release information on a number of ELN militants that are believed to be in the country.

ELN nominate senior member to integrate peace negotiations

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has announced the nomination of Nicolas Rodriguez Bautista, alias 'Gabino', as the newest member of the peace negotiations table. ELN chief negotiator, Pablo Beltran, told the Colombian High Commissioner for Peace that Gambino will integrate the peace talks. Peace commissioner Miguel Ceballos said that the decision still has to be approved by President Ivan Duque. ELN talks were suspended after they failed earlier this year. The government said on multiple occasions that negotiations will resume once the ELN cease its operations.

Armed militants target electricity company staff in Cauca

Several employees of an electricity company in Cauca have been briefly held after armed militants ambushed their vehicle in Inza. Local media reported that three engineers of the Compania Energetica de Occidente (CEO) were attacked by militants presumably linked to a dissident FARC front. Preliminary reports suggest that they were the target of extortion. CEO condemned the attack and called the government to reinforce security measures in the region. In October, a CEO staff was killed during an attack in Corinto.

Thousands take part in student-led march nationwide

Thousands of people took to the street nationwide as part of a student-led protest. Teachers, students, indigenous groups and workers' syndicates marched across major cities to demand more funds to higher education in Colombia. Tensions escalated in some of the protests, but most of them were peaceful. The Colombian education sector has been under huge pressure since mid-October, when public universities engaged in strike actions due to lack of funding. Further protests are expected to occur over the weekend. Visitors are advised to remain vigilant and avoid large gatherings.

ELN release engineer kidnapped in Arauca

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has released an engineer who was kidnapped back in March near the Venezuelan border. The Ombudsman Office said that Jose Leonardo Ataya was handed over to a humanitarian commission in Arauca. No further details were revealed. Ataya, the manager of a public-owned company, was abducted when gunmen raided a shop in a rural area in Arauca. Reports suggest that he was taken cross-border in a canoe to Venezuela. Ataya was released moments after the ELN released a 'proof-of-life' video of another kidnapped engineer.

ELN release video featuring kidnapped engineer

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has released a 'proof-of-life' footage featuring an engineer who was kidnapped nearly 10 months ago. El Pais reported that the video was delivered to the family of Rafael Andres Riano. Andres Riano was abducted from the offices of the oil company Ismocol in Saravena, Arauca department. It is believed that the incident was orchestrated by alias 'Pablito', a senior member of the ELN that widely operate along the Venezuelan border. Talks between the ELN and the government are suspended since President Ivan Duque took office back in August.

Prosecutors investigate death of witness son in Odebrecht probe

Colombian prosecutors are investigating the death of the son of a key witness in a major corruption case in Colombia. Alejandro Pizano Ponce was the son of Jorge Enrique Pizano, a key witness in a corruption case involving the Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht. Preliminary reports suggest that Alejandro suspiciously died after drinking water contaminated with cyanide. Alejandro's father has died three days before in Spain, just after granting an interview where he accused Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez of corruption. Jorge, who was undertaking cancer treatment, reportedly died after suffering a heart attack. The case involves a massive bribery scheme linked to the management of the Ruta del Sol highway.

Cano Limon-Convenas pipeline targeted in Cubara, Boyaca

A fire broke out after a bomb attack hit the Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline in northern Colombia. Reports revealed that the attack happened on Thursday afternoon near Cubara, Boyaca department. AP reported that a massive blaze reaching up to 10 metres engulfed a section of the pipeline, forcing services to be suspended after a massive oil spill. State-owned oil company Ecopetrol has said that 77 attacks have occurred in the pipeline since the state of the year. Paramilitary and militant groups, such as the National Liberation Army (ELN), are often behind such attacks.

Ombudsman warns of FARC dissident fronts in Buenaventura, Cauca Valley

Colombia's Ombudsman has raised concerns over the presence of FARC dissident fronts in Buenaventura, south-western Colombia. In a document addressed to Interior Minister Nancy Gutierrez, it is stated that nearly 13,000 people across several communities are at risk. Such regards violent territorial disputes involving two rival FARC dissident fronts in the areas near Yurumangui, Raposo, Cajambre, Mallorquin and Anchicaya. According to the document, the groups are engaged in threats, murders, recruitment, forced displacements and sexual harassment. Buenaventura is located west of Cali in the Cauca Valley. It is a strategically located port city, where criminal groups engaged in drug-trafficking widely operate. 

Former FARC militant shot dead in Convencion, Norte de Santander

A former militant of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been shot dead in Norte de Santander. Caracol Radio reported that Diofanid Rodriguez was killed in Campo Alegre, located in the rural area of Convencion. Rodriguez was granted amnesty after demobilising from FARC fronts amid a peace agreement with the government. Convencion is located in the restive Catatumbo region, where militant and paramilitary groups widely operate. It is estimated that nearly 70 former FARC members have been killed in Colombia since the peace deal was signed in 2016.

Powerful blast reported at prosecutor's office in Cali

A powerful explosion has been reported at the headquarters of the prosecutor's office in Cali. The incident was reported on Friday morning near the Plazoleta de San Francisco, where at least three blasts occurred. Local authorities are still investigating the incident, but the police said that there is no evidence that it was a bomb attack. Conflicting reports suggest that the blasts were caused after a power outage led to the activation of a stored explosive device. Such reports were not officially confirmed.

Kidnappers demand $5m to release Garcia Marquez's relative

Colombia's National Police has said that the kidnappers of Melissa Martinez Garcia, a relative to late prize-winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, have demanded $5m for her release. Melissa was kidnapped back in August when assailants intercepted her vehicle near Santa Marta, located in the northern Caribbean department of Magdalena, where she owns a banana farm. Police Director Fernando Murillo said that preliminary reports suggest that the crime is being conducted by criminals who are not engaged with any paramilitary or militant activity. Although kidnappings in Colombia significantly reduced in recent years, independent criminal groups often kidnap prominent individuals for ransom.

ELN launches arson attack in Pajarito, Boyaca

At least four pieces of heavy machinery were set ablaze when suspected militants targeted a set of roadworks in Pajarito, Boyaca. Boyaca Governor Carlos Amaya has attributed the attack to the National Liberation Army (ELN). Military sources told Noticias Caracol that security in the area has been reinforced. The incident is the third to occur in recent weeks in Boyaca. Last week, a police officer was killed after an armed attack on a police station in Tunja. 

Several killed in shooting at a bar in Cauca

At least six people have been killed after gunmen raided a bar in the coastal Pacific city of Lopez de Micay, Cauca. According to the local mayor, the assailants targeted a bar in the rural area of San Antonio. It is still unclear which group is behind the attack. The region is known for the operation of FARC dissidents and the National Liberation Army (ELN), which are engaged in disputes to secure lucrative coca plantations along the Pacific coast. 

Engineer kidnapped in Saravena, Arauca

An engineer has been kidnapped on the outskirts of Saravena, Arauca. Jesus Rojas Parada was abducted by presumed members of the National Liberation Army (ELN). RCN Radio reported that Parada was kidnapped just moments before collecting his daughter from school. According to the police, an anti-kidnapping unit located Parada along the road between Saravena and Cubara. Saravena is located on the border with Venezuela, where paramilitary groups and the ELN widely operate.

Soldiers deployed to tackle militant groups in northern Colombia

More than 5,000 soldiers have been deployed along the Venezuelan border to tackle militant and paramilitary groups engaged in drug-trafficking. President Ivan Duque has announced the deployment to the restive region of Catatumbo, where groups such as the National Liberation Army (ELN), the People's Liberation Army (EPL) and several paramilitary entities widely operate. High levels of criminality, including murders and kidnappings, are often reported along the porous Venezuela border, especially in Norte de Santander and Arauca departments.

Landmine blast kills police office in Tumaco, Narino

A 23-year-old police officer has been killed after a landmine explosion in Narino, south-western Colombia. Defense Minister Guillermo Botero said that Naren Mora Rivera was killed while undertaking coca-eradication works in the coastal town of Tumaco. Four other people were also injured in the blast. The area is known for the operation of FARC dissident fronts and militant groups engaged in drug-trafficking. 

Police officer killed in armed ambush in Suarez, Cauca

A police officer has been killed and two others were injured during an armed ambush in Suarez, Cauca department. According to local authorities, the incident happened on Sunday in the area of Pizamos. Noticias Caracol reported that the patrol unit was ambushed while carrying an inmate. Suarez is a rural town located near Cali. A similar incident happened last week in the same department, where dozens of people armed with makeshift weapons targeted a police unit transporting a suspected member of the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Military makes massive drug bust off Narino coast

Colombian authorities seized more than 1.6 tonnes of cocaine during a military operation off Narino, south-western Colombia. The military told El Pais that the operation took place off the coast of Tumaco, a restive town in the Pacific where drug-trafficking groups widely operate. Reports revealed that six Ecuadorian nationals were detained when soldiers intercepted two vessels. The drugs are believed to belong to the Guerrillas Unidas del Pacifico, a FARC dissident group which leader was killed back in September. According to the Navy, more than 80 tonnes of cocaine were seized this year in Colombian waters.

FARC dissident leader accused of links to Sinaloa Cartel

President Ivan Duque has said that a dissident front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is currently engaged in drug-trafficking activities with the notorious Mexican-based Sinaloa Cartel. President Duque has alleged that the Oliver Sinisterra front, which has been engaged in a number of attacks and kidnappings, is responsible for liaising with Mexican cartel leaders to send drugs to the US. The front is led by alias 'Guacho', one of the most wanted men in Colombia. President Duque called Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to jointly act with Colombian law-enforcement to tackle the potential expansion of Mexican cartels in Colombia. 

Several injured in grenade attack in Hacari, Norte de Santander

At least six people have been injured in a suspected grenade attack in Norte de Santander. According to Noticias Caracol, the attack happened on Wednesday evening at a police station in Hacari. Reports suggest that after throwing a hand grenade, assailants opened fire on the building. It is still unclear which group is behind the attack. Hacari is located in the Catatumbo region. In June, security tensions significantly increased in the town due to clashes between the military and the People's Liberation Army (EPL). The EPL is also engaged in disputes with the National Liberation Army (ELN).

ELN renewedly rejects government calls to cease operations

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has again rejected government calls to cease its operations in order to resume peace talks, which have been stalled since President Ivan Duque was sworn into office in August. ELN's chief negotiator, Pablo Beltran, said that they are willing to negotiate, but such would come without pre-established conditions. President Duque has recalled the ELN to cease its operations and release all its hostages to resume peace talks. Such intentions were echoed during his visit to the Vatican, which has served a key role in monitoring previous negotiations.

Locals block police unit transporting ELN suspect in Cauca

Dozens of people armed with makeshift weapons have ambushed a police vehicle carrying a suspected militant in Cauca, south-western Colombia. DW reported that Didier Calvache, alias Conejo, the financial chief of a National Liberation Army (ELN), was being transported from the rural area of Pitalito to Popayan. El Espectador reported that no officers were injured, but the vehicle was set ablaze. Colombia's ministry of defence condemned the incident and said that investigations were launched. Previous incidents involving clashes with law enforcement have been reported in Cauca, where militant and paramilitary groups engaged in drug-trafficking activities widely operate. The most recent occurred several days ago in Argelia.

Four soldiers killed in helicopter crash near Argelia, Cauca

Four soldiers have been killed after a helicopter crashed during a military operation in Cauca, south-western Colombia. In a communique, the army said that the aircraft was taking part in a counter-narcotics operation in Argelia, where a major drug lab was dismantled. It is still unclear what caused the crash. Military operations in the region recently intensified to counter paramilitary groups and drug-traffickers linked to FARC dissidents.

Senate speaker proposes extension to presidential term

Colombia's Senate Speaker Ernesto Macias has proposed to extend the term of recently elected President Ivan Duque to five years. In a statement issued on social media, Macias, member of the ruling Democratic Centre (CD), proposed the move in order to coordinate the 2022 presidential vote with the regional elections scheduled for the following year. The announcement generated criticism from Vice-President Marta Lucia Ramirez, who said that any changes would be anti-democratic. Presidential terms in Colombia are currently four years, with a two-term limit.

Armed group launches attack against oil pipeline in Villagarzon, Putumayo

A pipeline of the Canadian-based Gran Tierra Energy has been targeted in a bomb attack in Putumayo, southern Colombia. Military officials confirmed that the attack happened on Friday in the rural town of Villagarzon, located in the outskirts of Mocoa, near the Ecuadorian border. It is still unclear which group is behind the incident. The area is known for the presence of the dissident fronts of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which in recent months have been engaged in a number of incidents, including bomb attacks and kidnappings.

Several killed due to landslides in Barrancabermeja, Santander

At least nine people have been killed when heavy rainfall triggered landslides in Santander, northern Colombia. According to local authorities, the incident happened in the early hours of Sunday in the town of San Silvestre, Barrancabermeja. Mayor Elizabeth Lobo announced that more than a dozen people were rescued, while further rescue operations are still being launched. Colombia is currently facing its second annual rainy season, which usually lasts until December. According to Colombia's National Unit for Risk and Disaster Management (UNGRD) nearly all departments have already been affected by the rainfall. Daily alerts and updates are provided by the Institute of Hydrology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM).

Thousands of students to march to demand university funding

Thousands of students and education professionals are set to take part in a massive demonstration to demand more funding to universities. Colombia's National Union of Higher Education Students (UNEES) has called for a march on Wednesday. The protest is scheduled to start at 12:00 local time. Students are calling President Ivan Duque to relocate up to $1.5bn from the national budget to higher education. Strike actions kicked off last Friday after talks with Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla collapsed. Travel disruptions are highly expected across Bogota and major cities.

President Duque rejects ceasefire calls from the ELN

President Ivan Duque has rejected calls of the National Liberation Army (ELN) to engage in a bilateral ceasefire agreement. While meeting with former Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar, Duque said that a ceasefire with the ELN will only be possible if the group completely halt its operations. Duque reiterated the government position on talks with the ELN, which had previously called his administration to resume peace negotiations started under his predecessor.

Former FARC militant shot dead in Corinto, Cauca

A demobilised member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been killed during an armed ambush in Cauca, western Colombia. El Pais reported that Mauricio Castaneda was driving his vehicle in the town of Corinto, when he was targeted while crossing the bridge over the La Paila river, located on the way to the town of Miranda. A number of former FARC guerrillas were already killed since the peace deal took place in 2016. The new-born FARC political party claims that more than 70 demobilised guerrillas were already killed in Colombia.

Soldiers killed during armed attack in La Macarena, Meta

At least two soldiers have been killed and three others were injured during an armed ambush in Meta, central Colombia. According to the military, the soldiers were targeted in the rural area of Atlantida, La Macarena. Reports suggest that the attack was carried out by FARC dissidents part of the so-called Estructura 40, which widely operate in the region and often target local business owners and farmers.

Business owner kidnapped in Ocana, Norte de Santander

A local business owner has been kidnapped when four armed criminals forced him into a pick-up truck in Ocana, Norte de Santander. According to the authorities, William Franco was abducted outside his home in the La Ermita area. Ocana is located in the restive Catatumbo region, where members of the National Liberation Army (ELN), the People's Liberation Army (EPL) and FARC dissidents are known to operate.

Thousands affected by heavy rainfall in La Guajira

More than 65,000 people have been affected as heavy rainfall continues to hit La Guajira department, north-eastern Colombia. According to the latest report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), most people affected were from the town of Uribia. Others areas affected also include the towns of Rio Racha, Fonseca and Dibulla. Heavy rain has been battering the region since early-October, forcing local governments to declare states of emergency across several rural communities, which house indigenous communities and Venezuelan migrants.

Landslide kills 11 in Marquetalia, Caldas

Nearly a dozen people have been killed and several others have been injured after heavy rainfall triggered landslides in the Caldas department, central Colombia. Reports from Colombia's National Disaster Risk Management Unit (UNGRD) revealed that several homes were destroyed after landslides hit the town of Marquetalia. Colombia is currently experiencing its second rainy season, which kicked off in mid-September and lasts until December. During this period, landslides and flooding are common, especially across departments located along the coast in the Andina, Caribbean and Pacific regions. Daily weather updates are provided by Colombia's Institute of Hydrology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM).

Activist and two sons killed in Cauca

A prominent rights activist and his two sons have been killed in Cauca province. Police said the three victims were found with signs consistent with torture at their home in the town of Bolivar. Jaime Rivera had led protests against state programmes against coca crops and was a supporter of the National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops. The National Coordinator of Cultivators of Coca, Poppy and Marijuana (Coccam) denounced the killings and called on government officials to guarantee the safety of social leaders across the country.

Mayor's son release after being kidnapped in El Carmen, Norte de Santander

The five-year-old son of the mayor of El Carmen, Norte de Santander, has been released after a police operation. The victim was kidnapped on Wednesday morning when gunmen raided his school in the Guamalito area. El Carmen is located in the restive region of Catatumbo, where paramilitary and militant groups widely operate. 

Military launch air raids to target FARC dissidents in Antioquia

A joint operation has been launched to target members of a dissident front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) based in the north-western department of Antioquia. Air raids were reported in the area of El Cedral, located between the towns of Briceno and Ituango, where alias 'Cabuyo' is believed to widely operate. Cabuyo is the leader of the Front 36 of the FARC, which is accused of killing three geologists of the Canadian-based Continental Gold. They were killed last month, weeks after another Continental Gold engineer was also murdered in Antioquia.

INTERPOL issue red notice against ELN leader

INTERPOL has issued a red notice against the leader of the central command of the National Liberation Army (ELN) for links to murder and illicit recruitment. Nicolas Rodriguez Bautista, alias Gabino, is the top leader of the insurgent group. He and the ELN leadership have been accused of orchestrating bomb attacks and kidnaps across Colombia. The notice has been previously requested by Colombia's top prosecutor, Nestor Humberto Martinez. The ELN is Colombia's largest guerrilla group. Despite some similarities with the FARC, ELN fronts operate more autonomously.

Clan del Golfo regional leader shot dead in Santafe, Antioquia

A regional leader of the Clan del Golfo group has been killed during a joint operation in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Authorities confirmed that alias 'Cole' was gunned down during a raid in the town of Santafe. Cole is believed to lead more than 300 paramilitary soldiers in the region and is engaged in extortion, drug-trafficking and clandestine mining. Intelligence officers said that he was one of the key leaders of the organisation as its operations generated high income to the group. Clan del Golfo has significantly expanded its operations across northern Colombia after the demobilisation of the FARC.

Kidnapped lorry drivers released in Buenaventura

Two lorry drivers have been released after being kidnapped by presumed criminals linked to the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Buenaventura, south-western Colombia. El Pais reported that the assailants abducted the victims near the town of Sabaletas. Reports suggest that a ransom payment of 30 million pesos was demanded ($10k) to liberate both drivers and the cargo reportedly valued at 100 million pesos ($33k). Buenaventura is a key port area in the Cauca Valley department, where militant and paramilitary groups widely operate, especially in rural areas.

Hundreds displaced due to armed clashes in Ituango, Antioquia

Hundreds of people have been displaced due to armed clashes in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. El Colombiano reported that clashes broke out in the El Cedral area in Ituango. Local mayor Hernan Dario Alvarez said that intense shootings have been reported in the area on Thursday. FARC dissidents and Clan del Golfo paramilitary are believed to operate in the region.

Military release 17 kidnapped contractors in Zaragoza, Antioquia

Seventeen contractors to a state-owned company have been released during a military operation in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. According to the military, the victims worked for the Medellin-based EPM. They were kidnapped on Saturday in the rural area of Zaragoza. Reports revealed that a military operation was launched in the area known as El Pato, where soldiers clashed with presumed members of the Clan del Golfo. The Clan del Golfo is the largest paramilitary group in Colombia. It has significantly expanded across Antioquia since the demobilisation of the FARC.

Former FARC militant killed in Patia, Cauca

A demobilised militant of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been killed in Cauca, south-western Colombia. Reports revealed that Yon Samboni was killed in the southern town of Patia. El Espectador reported that he worked as a guard for the government's National Protection Unit (UNP). Members of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force party condemned the attack. The party claims that more than 70 former FARC members have been killed since the peace deal was signed in 2016.

Gunmen kill two coca growers in El Dovio, Cauca Valley

Two men engaged in the government-backed crops substitution programme have been killed during an armed ambush in the Cauca Valley, western Colombia. According to Caracol Radio, the men were attacked while riding a motorcycle in El Dovio. Both victims were coca growers who have been working with the local authorities since last year to replace coca crops with legitimate ones. Since the FARC peace deal, several Campesinos were killed for cooperating with the programme. A recent report from the UNODC revealed a significant increase to coca cultivation in Colombia last year.

ELN refuse to abide by Colombian law amid stalled talks

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has said that the group will not abide by Colombian law as negotiations with the government are suspended since President Ivan Duque took office in August. In a statement, the ELN accused the government of being unwilling to resume peace talks in Cuba and also of making unilateral demands. President Duque has called on the ELN to release all of its hostages before he considers the resumption of peace talks with the group. Last week, at least nine hostages were released by the ELN. The government is still in the process of nominating a new negotiator.

Three geologists of Canadian mining company killed in Antioquia

Three geologists have been killed and three others were injured in an armed attack in Antioquia, northern Colombia. The victims worked for the Canadian-based Continental Gold, which told Reuters that the attack happened on Thursday in the town of Ochali, Yarumal. The attack has been attributed to dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that, alongside other paramilitary and militant groups, widely operate in Antioquia. Earlier this month, a Continental Gold engineer was killed in another armed attack in Buritica, also located in Antioquia.

Coca cultivation significantly increases in Colombia despite peace deal

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has released a report on Wednesday, which confirmed a 17 percent increase in areas of coca cultivation in Colombia. The Coca Cultivation Survey Report for Colombia has concluded that between 2016 and 2017, the departments of Antioquia, Putumayo, Norte de Santander and Cauca faced the biggest increases in coca production, while the most affected areas continue to be the south-western department of Narino. Despite government efforts to reduce coca plantations through crops substitution programmes, most coca cultivation in Colombia is still present in the same areas, which are mostly located in deep jungle areas and along both Ecuadorian and Venezuelan borders. Despite the FARC peace deal, militant and dissident groups expanded their operations across former guerrilla-held territories.

Eight killed as lorry ploughs into pedestrians in Cundinamarca

At least eight people have been killed and more than a dozen others were injured when a lorry ploughed into pedestrians in Cundinamarca, central Colombia. Emergency services said that the accident happened on a road between Guaduas and Puerto Salgar on Wednesday afternoon. Preliminary reports suggest that the accident happened due to a failure of the lorry's brakes. Road accidents in Colombia are common. They mainly occur due to reckless driving and poorly maintained vehicles.

President Duque removes government negotiator to ELN talks

President Ivan Duque has ordered the removal of the government's chief negotiator in the talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN). The government claims that the move is administrative and that it will nominate a new negotiator as soon as the ELN meet their demands. Since President Duque was elected, he set a 30-day deadline to assess developments in the talks. He demanded the ELN to release all its hostages to allow talks to be resumed. So far, the ELN has released a number of soldiers and civilians, while claiming that the government is unwilling to negotiate despite the group's efforts.

ELN release kidnapped youngster in Choco

A 16-year-old girl has been released after being kidnapped by the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Choco, north-western Colombia. Mayerli Cortes Rodriguez was abducted nearly two weeks ago in Bajo Baudo. Rodriguez was kidnapped just after several victims were freed by the ELN. In a statement, the ELN criticised the government of compromising the group's intentions to release hostages and engage in negotiations. President Ivan Duque asked the ELN to release all hostages and to resume long-stalled peace talks.

Three injured in grenade attack in Tumaco, Narino

At least three people have been injured during a suspected grenade attack in Tumaco, Narino. Local media reported that a grenade was launched at a police patrol unit in the Maria Auxiliadora neighbourhood. The incident happened on Tuesday evening and led to the injury of two civilians. Security measures in the city have been heightened amid ongoing operations to capture alias 'Guacho', the head of a FARC dissident front.

Government condemns Venezuelan military incursion in Vinchada

The government has accused the Venezuelan military of violating the country's sovereignty after 20 members of the National Bolivarian Guard (GNB) made an incursion in Vinchada, north-western Colombia. According to the government, the incident happened in the Maipures Island, located along the bordering Orinoco River. Reports suggest that three Colombian nationals were detained during the raid. Allegations of border sovereignty violation have been previously reported by both sides. The latest happened in August when GNB forces were deployed in Norte de Santander.

Flooding affects thousands in Arauquita, Arauca

At least 2,000 people have been affected after heavy rainfall triggered widespread flooding in Arauca, northern Colombia. Most families live in the town of Arauquita, located near the Venezuelan border. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the neighbourhoods of Los Pinos, Primero de Julio and El Centro were the most affected. Colombia's Institute of Hydrology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) has issued an alert to the town due to the potential overflowing of the Arauca river. The alert is active until Thursday.

FARC dissident leader injured during military operation in Narino

The leader of a FARC dissident front based in the southern department of Narino has been reportedly injured during a military operation. According to military sources, alias 'Guacho' was injured in the early hours of Saturday morning during an operation across Roberto Payan, located in the rural area of Tumaco. Thousands of soldiers were deployed to monitor health centres, hospitals, border crossings and major roads in a massive crackdown against the Oliver Sinisterra Front. Guacho is responsible for a number of kidnaps and bomb attacks in Ecuador and Colombia.

UN Mission in Colombia extended until September 2019

The UN Security Council has unanimously approved the extension of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia. In a vote held on Thursday, all 15 Security Council members voted to adopt Resolution 2435, which allows the extension of the UN mission mandate until late-September 2019. The mission was initially launched for 12 months to monitor the aftermath of the peace deal between the government and the FARC.

Government sets target to eradicate coca crops

President Ivan Duque has said that the government plans to eradicate up to 150,000 hectares of coca plantations within the next four years. Since the peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the government has launched programmes to substitute coca crops with legitimate ones. Some areas have been facing extreme resistance due to pressure from paramilitary groups or the inability to cultivate alternative crops. President Duque said that he is also considering to reintroduce aerial fumigation, which was banned three years ago due to health concerns.

Flooding affects thousands in Apartado, Antioquia

More than 3,000 people have been affected when heavy rainfall triggered widespread flooding across Apartado, Antioquia. At least six neighbourhoods across the town's urban area were completely flooded. Apartado is located in northern Antioquia, close to the Gulf of Uraba on the Caribbean Sea. Northern Antioquia usually experiences most of its rainfall during September and October.

ELN release six hostages in bid to resume peace talks

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has released six more hostages on Wednesday as the group seeks to resume peace talks with the government of President Ivan Duque. The International Committee of the Red Cross said: “We accompanied the humanitarian commission that facilitated the release of six people who were being held by the ELN since August. We’re happy that you will soon be able to reunite with your families”. Among them were three soldiers, a police officer and two civilians. The release took place in the north-western department of Choco. Three soldiers were released last week in Arauca. Earlier in the week, the ELN rejected government calls to release all of its hostages as a condition to resume talks.

Missing FARC leaders claimed to be committed to peace deal

Colombia's Attorney General has stated that missing leaders of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) are still committed to the peace process despite their disappearance. The announcement came after prosecutors received a letter from former FARC leader Henry Castellanos, stating that they are still abiding by the guidelines predicted under the peace deal. Castellanos alongside several other FARC leaders were reported missing in recent months. Tensions with the government escalated when alias 'Jesus Santrich' was detained for drug charges. 

Medellin airport shutdown due to inclement weather

Adverse weather conditions are impacting operations at Medellin's Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH) on Wednesday. The airport is currently closed, while more than a dozen flights are facing severe delays. Passengers have been advised to check for flight status updates before heading to the airport. EOH mainly serves regional and domestic flights.

Armed clashes displace hundreds in Taraza, Antioquia

Armed clashes involving rival criminal groups have led to the displacement of nearly 740 people across several rural areas in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that tensions erupted last week across several rural communities in Taraza. OCHA further highlighted concerns about the death of social leaders and threats against civilians across campesino villages. 

Community leader found dead in Antioquia

A community leader has been found dead several days after being reported missing in Medellin, Antioquia. Leidy Correa Valle was the community leader in the rural area of Guayabal de Pena. Local authorities claim that her death may be gender-motivated. Dozens of social and community leaders have been killed nationwide in recent months. Correa Valle's death also raised concerns over gender violence in Colombia, where women's rights groups claim that nearly 760 women were killed in the country during 2017.

Hundreds affected due to armed clashes in Choco

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said that nearly 2,000 people are being currently affected due to armed clashes in Choco, north-western Colombia. In the latest update released on Friday, OCHA revealed that more than 60 families were displaced while nearly 320 are isolated. Most of them are spread across 12 indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in Jurado and Bahia Solano. For months, thousands of people have been displaced due to clashes between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Clan del Golfo.

ELN rejects government demands to resume peace talks

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has rejected demands of President Ivan Duque to resume peace talks. President Duque has reiterated over the weekend that he will only allow talks to be resumed after the ELN release all of its hostages. The ELN has accused the government of making the handing over of hostages more difficult while calling such demands unacceptable. Talks with the government kicked off during the administration of Juan Manuel Santos and since then has been facing a number of setbacks due to the group's engagement in kidnapping activities.

Dissident leader killed in Tumaco, Narino

A FARC dissident leader has been killed during a military operation in Narino, south-western Colombia. Alias 'David' was the leader of a dissident front based in Tumaco, where more than 120 members were engaged in kidnapping, drug-trafficking and extortion. David is believed to be linked to the infamous Mexican-based Cartel Jalisco New Generation (CJNG) and to fight for control against another FARC front based in Narino. Several FARC dissident fronts still operate in southern Colombia, especially in jungle areas along the Ecuadorian border.

Three FARC dissidents killed in Calamar, Guaviare

Three FARC dissidents have been killed during armed clashes with the military in Guaviare, central Colombia. According to the military, the suspects were killed in the town of Las Brisas del Itilla, located in the rural area of Calamar. It is believed that they were members of a dissident front dedicated to extortion and drug trafficking along the Itilla River. Several high-calibre weapons and explosives were seized at the scene. FARC militants who rejected the peace agreement continue to be active throughout several departments in Colombia, especially in Guaviare and Meta.

Landslides block major highway between Medellin and Bogota

Several stretches along the main highway between Medellin and Bogota have been blocked after heavy rainfall triggered landslides. According to reports, the landslides happened along the Highway 60 near the towns of San Luis and Cocorna. Local authorities said that Highway 60 has been facing some setbacks due to changes to management, which forced the emergency services to advise people to avoid it. Heavy rainfall is forecast to continue in the region throughout the next few days.

Former FARC leaders abandon special zones in south-eastern Colombia

The UN Verification Mission in Colombia has confirmed that six former leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) abandoned special reincorporation zones in south-eastern Colombia. It has been reported that in recent weeks more than 1,500 demobilised guerrillas joined them. The mission underlined that such is a violation of the peace accord with the government. At least three senior FARC party members were already reported missing, including Ivan Marquez, the second in command after Rodrigo Londono.

Engineer killed in armed ambush in Buritica, Colombia

An engineer of the Canadian-based Continental Gold has been killed following an armed ambush in northern Colombia. Reports suggest that the victim was shot dead while travelling at a company-owned vehicle in Buritica. Another engineer was also injured in the attack. Continental Gold has significantly expanded its operations in Buritica, where a massive plant is being built. Militant and paramilitary groups widely operate in Antioquia. They have been responsible for attacks against security forces and, in some cases, against workers from energy and power companies

Armed clashes displace hundreds in Narino

More than 640 people have been displaced due to armed clashes reported across Narino, south-western Colombia. According to the latest updates from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), during the last week of August, violent clashes broke out in the rural areas of El Charco and Barbacoas. Most of them involved rival armed groups and FARC dissidents. Since the demobilisation of the FARC, armed clashes in southern Colombia have intensified, especially near the Ecuadorian border and coastal areas.

ELN release kidnapped soldiers in Arauca

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has released three soldiers who were abducted nearly a month ago in Arauca, north-eastern Colombia. President Ivan Duque confirmed the move. The soldiers were handed over to members of a humanitarian commission in a rural area of Arauca. President Duque called for the release of all hostages that are being currently held by the ELN to allow peace talks to resume. Talks between the ELN and the government came to a halt after the group re-engaged in kidnapping and attacks in northern Colombia.

State of emergency declared over oil spill in Teorama, Norte de Santander

An environmental state of emergency has been declared over an oil spill on the Cano Limon Covenas oil pipeline in Teorama, Norte de Santander. The state-owned oil company Ecopetrol has said that the oil spill affected the area around La Llana and the Catatumbo River. Contingency measures were launched to limit wildlife contamination, while investigations remain ongoing. The Cano Limon Covenas is one of the most important oil pipelines in Colombia. It has resumed operations in July after dozens of attacks, mainly orchestrated by the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Local official shot dead in Norte de Santander

City councilor Alirio Antonio Arenas Gómez has been shot dead outside his house in the Belen district of Ocana, Norte de Santander. Another person was wounded in the incident, which occurred in the early hours of Monday morning. Gómez, a member of the Movimiento Alternativo Indígena y Social (MAIS), had previously requested increased protection measures.

Man killed in Medellin shooting

A 63-year-old man has been killed and five others wounded in a shooting in Medellin. The incident happened in the Cordoba suburb in the seventh district on Saturday night. Early indications suggest the incident was a targeted contract killing, with the deceased victim receiving multiple gunshot wounds. Crime figures for 2018 suggest the seventh district is the third most dangerous in the city.

Spanish president offers to host ELN talks in Spain

Spain's President Pedro Sanchez has offered his Colombian counterpart, Ivan Duque, to host in Spain a potential round of talks between the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN). The intentions were revealed during an interview to Caracol Radio. Sanchez recently visited Colombia as part of his tour in Latin America. Talks with the ELN were initially held in Ecuador, but they moved to Cuba after a series of security incidents involving militant groups occurred along the Ecuadorian border.

FARC officially declared as government opposition

The Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) has officially declared opposed to the government of President Ivan Duque. FARC's leader Rodrigo Londono said in a statement that the new government is not centred on the people and is shifting to potential changes predicted under the FARC peace deal. Colombia's government has been long criticised by the newly established party for reportedly failing to honour some aspects of the peace agreement. Earlier this month, the FARC condemned the disappearance of Ivan Marquez, who was reported missing in Caqueta.

ELN attack kills one soldier in Arauquita, Arauca

A soldier has been killed and three others were injured when presumed members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) targeted a military patrol in Arauca, northern Colombia. Military sources revealed that the attack happened on Monday evening in El Troncal, located in the rural area of Arauquita, near the Venezuelan border. ELN militants are highly active in Arauca, especially in areas close to the porous border with Venezuela.

Five children killed in house fire in Tierralta, Cordoba

At least five children have been killed after a fire broke out at a house in Cordoba, northern Colombia. Local media reported that the incident happened in Crucito, located in the rural area of Tierralta. According to the authorities, the fire was caused by a candle which had been left burning in the children's room. Reports suggest that the sleeping children were left unattended during the night.

Four killed as violent shooting breaks out in Cali

At least four people have been killed after a shooting broke out in Cali, western Colombia. El Pais reported on Saturday that a violent shootout erupted in the El Vergel neighbourhood. According to the police, the incident involved two rival criminal groups based on the outskirts of Cali. 

Anti-corruption referendum fails to pass due to lack of voters

An anti-corruption referendum in Colombia has failed to pass after it did not meet the minimum number of voters. Although all seven proposals were overwhelmingly approved, they fell short of the minimum number of votes required to make the referendum valid. Among the measures were plans to introduce stronger sentences for those linked to corruption; lower wages for congress members; and more transparency in politicians' finances. In order to be binding, the referendum needed to register 12 million votes, but it only recorded nearly 11.5 million. The measures are now set to be discussed in Congress or to be introduced via a presidential decree.

Colombia to quit UNASUR in protest against Venezuela

President Ivan Duque has announced that Colombia is set to withdraw from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). President Duque said in a statement that: "Today with precise instructions, the foreign minister sent UNASUR the letter where we denounce the constituent treaty of that entity and in six months our withdrawal will be effective." The move comes to apply further pressure against Venezuela, which is one of the co-founders of the group. Argentina and several other countries have previously announced plans to leave the regional block.

Two former FARC militants killed near Cali, Cauca

Lawmakers of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) have condemned the presumed assassination of two demobilised FARC guerillas in Cauca, souther-western Colombia. According to Yerson Sanchez Garcia, both victims were found near a river in a rural area between Corinto and Miranda, near Cali. They claim that the area was located close to a military checkpoint. The incident came several days after another former FARC guerilla was killed in Tolima. A rights group, Indepaz, claim that one demobilised FARC militant is killed in Colombia every six days.

Kidnapped left-wing activist found dead in Puerto Rico, Meta

A member of the left-wing party Patriotic Union (UP) has been found dead just a few days after being kidnapped in Meta, central Colombia. Jefferson Arevalo was reported missing earlier this week. He was found dead on Thursday in the rural area of Puerto Rico. Rights group Reiniciar condemned his death and called for further investigations. Reiniciar said that Arevalo's wife was also attacked. UP was formed back in the 1980s after a peace deal between the FARC and the government - more than 3,500 UP members are believed to have been killed by paramilitary and government forces between the 1980s and 1990s.

Senior ELN officer detained in El Tarra, Norte de Santander

A senior financial officer of a National Liberation Army (ELN) front has been detained during a military operation in the restive Catatumbo region, north-eastern Colombia. President Ivan Duque said that alias 'Bryan' was detained alongside four other members of ELN's Northeastern Front in El Tarra, Norte de Santander. The arrests came as part of a crackdown against the ELN, which ceasefire talks recently collapsed. The region is at the centre of violent territorial clashes involving the ELN and paramilitary groups.

FARC condemn attack against demobilised guerrilla in Tolima

The Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) has condemned a bomb attack against a demobilised FARC guerilla in Tolima, central Colombia. The party claims that a former FARC member was targeted at his house in the southern rural town of Planadas. Police said that investigations have been launched. Since the FARC demobilisation, several former members have been systematically targeted across Colombia. Such attacks have largely hindered relations between the FARC political party and the government.

Government condemns Venezuelan military deployment in Norte de Santander

Colombia's foreign ministry has released a statement condemning a military incursion led by Venezuela's Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) in Norte de Santander, north-eastern Colombia. In a note released on Tuesday, the government accused Venezuela of deploying two military helicopters and more than 30 GNB soldiers to the area of Vetas de Oriente in Tibu. Allegations of border sovereignty violation have been previously reported by both sides. The region is known for the presence of militant and paramilitary groups that often operate cross-border from and into Venezuela.

Alleged boss of Medellin-based group detained in Sucre

A senior member of the Oficina de Envigado criminal group has been detained during a police operation in Sucre, northern Colombia. Alias 'Pichi' is the suspected leader of the group, which is based in Medellin and considered one of the most influential drug-trafficking entities in Colombia. He is believed to have replaced alias 'Tom', who was detained back in December. Since then, a surge in violent territorial disputes has been reported in western Medellin.

ELN release video of kidnapped soldiers

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has released fresh video footage featuring three kidnapped soldiers who are being currently being held by the group after being captured earlier this month. The video comes just days after a proof-of-life audio file was released by the group. The ELN criticised the government for not expediting emergency protocols to release the hostages, who were kidnapped in Tame, Arauca department. Currently, there are nine people being held by the group, including two civilians, three police officers and four soldiers.

Indigenous leader shot dead in Tumaco, Narino

An indigenous leader has been killed after gunmen targeted him outside his home in Tumaco, Narino. El Pais reported that Olmedo Niscue was shot on Sunday evening in La Guayana area. Reports suggest that Niscue and several members of his organisation suffered death threats in recent weeks. A local indigenous governor said that they started in early-July after several FARC dissidents were killed in a military operation in the region.

Six drug-traffickers linked to Ecuadorian crash detained in Tolima

Six members of a drug-trafficking group linked to a deadly bus crash in Ecuador have been detained in Tolima, central Colombia. According to prosecutors, the suspects are members of the group known as 'Los Mercaderes de la Frontera', which often use transports disguised as tour buses to distribute drugs across Colombia and Latin America. At least 20 people were killed last week when a bus travelling from Colombia crashed near Quito. Nearly 600 kilos of drugs were found inside the vehicle.

FARC leader missing after reportedly escaping camp in Caqueta

The leader of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC), Ivan Marquez, has been reported missing alongside a former guerilla general in the southern department of Caqueta. FARC Senator Veronica Sandino said that Marquez left without a trace a compound of demobilised FARC militants in Miravalle. Reports suggest that he fled the scene before hooded assailants approached the camp. Sandino said that Marquez had previously condemned military operations near the compound. He moved to the area back in April in protest for the detention of the Jesus Santrich.

Thousands affected due to armed clashes in Choco

Thousands of indigenous people have been affected due to violent clashes between the Clan del Golfo and the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Choco, north-western Colombia. According to a report released on Thursday by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 3,600 people are unable to access food, medicine and services across more than a dozen communities in the towns of Riosucio, Carmen del Darien and Bojaya. 

ELN release 'proof-of-life' audio of kidnapped soldiers

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has released 'proof-of-life' audio records of four soldiers kidnapped last week in Arauca, northern Colombia. EFE reported that the recordings portray a dialogue between the victims and a man identified as 'Comandante Uriel', which confirms that their release is expected to be completed in the next few days. Earlier this week, the defence ministry launched an emergency protocol to release all nine hostages currently held by the ELN.

Police department in Medellin investigated for links to kidnapping

Investigations have been launched into a group of police officers based in Medellin for suspected links to kidnapping and extortion. More than 10 police officers in the north-western city have been detained in recent months for alleged links to a group known as 'Los Magnificos'. The gang is composed of former and current police officers established back in 2015. It is believed to have ties to the infamous Oficina de Envigado, the origins of which date back to the Medellin Cartel. 

Community leader gunned down in Aracataca, Magdalena

A 30-year-old community leader has been killed in a shooting in Magdalena, northern Colombia. Local media reported that Alfredo Palacio Jimenez was shot dead when two men on a motorcycle opened fire at him in Aracataca. Jimenez was a member of the local community assembly. In recent months, social leaders across Colombia have been systematically targeted. Most of them have been attacked amid intimidation campaigns from militant and paramilitary groups.

Defense ministry activates protocol to release nine ELN hostages

Colombia's Defense Ministry and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have activated emergency protocols to release nine people held by the National Liberation Army (ELN). Among them are three soldiers who were kidnapped last week in Arauca. In a statement, the government emphasised that their release may not be conditioned by ELN demands. President Ivan Duque called the ELN to immediately cease kidnapping activities and to release all of their hostages. Peace talks came to a halt after the ELN and the government failed to reach a ceasefire.

Right-wing paramilitary group issue threats in the Cauca Valley

Members of the so-called Aguilas Negras group have issued threats against social leaders and politicians in Cauca Valley, south-western Colombia. In a document that emerged on social media, the group's Western Front praised the election of President Ivan Duque and said that it would target all left-wing opposition. The Aguilas Negras is a self-denominated right-wing group with paramilitary roots. The composition of its command structure is unclear as some former paramilitary adopted the group's name to protect their drug trade and economic interests in rural areas.

Thousands evacuated due to floods in Mocoa, Putumayo

More than 30,000 people have been evacuated after heavy rainfall caused widespread flooding in Putumayo, southern Colombia. A weather alert issued to the town of Mocoa has been lifted after conditions significantly improved on Sunday. The towns of Puerto Guzman and Villagarzon were also heavily affected. Last year, hundreds of people were killed when a powerful landslide hit Mocoa. Back in April, investigations led by the National University of Colombia concluded that intense rainfall may still cause local rivers in Mocoa to overflow and trigger further landslides.

Judges order arrest of ELN members linked to child recruitment

Judges have issued more than a dozen arrest warrants against members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) for their involvement in the recruitment of children. Prosecutors said that "the guerrilla group maintains its criminal activity with the forced use of children and adolescents" aged between seven and 17 years of age. Former President Juan Manuel Santos failed to reach a ceasefire deal with the ELN before he left office last week. His successor, Ivan Duque, recently announced that potential revisions to the talks, which is expected to be launched in the next few weeks.

Large crowds expected ahead of local celebrations in Medellin

Large crowds are expected to gather on the streets of Medellin ahead of a local celebration over the weekend. Travel disruption will likely impact some areas in central Medellin due to road closures. A march will take place from the Calle 25 to Plaza Gardel. Most parts of the Guayabal Avenue will be closed. Travellers heading to Medellin's Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH) should anticipate journey delays and allow extra time before scheduled flights - EOH mainly operates regional and domestic flights.

Three soldiers kidnapped in Fortul, Arauca

Three soldiers have been kidnapped after criminals targeted their vehicle in Arauca, northern Colombia. Military sources confirmed that the victims were wearing civilian clothing when a public transport vehicle was attacked on Wednesday afternoon in Fortul. The victims were reportedly heading to the town of Tame. Preliminary investigations suggest that the Doming Lain Saenz Front of the National Liberation Army (ELN) is behind the kidnapping. President Ivan Duque announced a revision to the ELN talks, which is recent days collapsed after both parts failed to reach a ceasefire deal.

Thousands of migrants stranded at Rumichaca border crossing

Thousands of Venezuelans are currently stranded at the Colombian-Ecuadorian border waiting to cross into the country. It is estimated that more than 10,000 people are currently waiting to cross the Rumichaca International Bridge, which last year received more than 230,000 Venezuelans. Ecuador's migration minister, Santiago Chavez, told El Comercio that authorities are monitoring developments in the area after more than 3,200 people crossed the border on Monday. Ecuador and Colombia are one of the main destinations for Venezuelan fleeing from the country's turmoil.

Social leader killed in Cajibio, Cauca

A social leader has been gunned down during an armed ambush in Cauca, south-western Colombia. Local media reported that Uriel Rodriguez was targeted on Tuesday evening at a store in the town of Cajibio. Caracol Radio revealed that a pro-peace event was taking place in the town, where a number of government officials and UN representatives were attending. Social leaders denounced the presence of paramilitary groups often linked to intimidation and attacks against rights advocates. In recent months, dozens of social and rights leaders were killed nationwide.

President Ivan Duque takes office

President Ivan Duque has taken office on Tuesday. Duque is a member of the centre-right Democratic Centre (CD), the same party of former President Alvaro Uribe. He is set to face a number of challenges, including enforcing the guidelines under the FARC peace agreement, which he said to respect but may introduce some changes. Duque also confirmed that his government will evaluate the progress of the talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN). Other challenges include increasing diplomatic tensions with Venezuela, which political crisis threatens to spill over Colombia.

Police officer killed in bomb attack near Cali, Cauca

A police officer has been killed and three others were injured when a bomb exploded near Cali, Cauca department. Reports revealed that an explosive attached to a motorcycle went off close to a police station in Padilla. Militant and paramilitary groups often launch attacks against security forces in Cauca, especially around rural areas. Last week, a soldier was killed in clashes with the National Liberation Army (ELN) in El Tambo.

Two social leaders killed in Antioquia

Two social leaders have been killed in separate attacks in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Hernan Chavarria was assassinated in the eastern town of La Union. His organisation, Asocbare-na, claimed that a number of its members have received several threats before. Social movements claim that most of the assassinations in Antioquia targeted people opposed to the controversial Hidroituango dam project. Meanwhile, in the town of Taraza, a social leader engaged in crop substitution programmes has been killed. In the first six months of 2018, more than 20 social leaders were killed in Antioquia.

Authorities ban drones ahead of presidential inauguration

Colombian authorities have issued a ban on drones during the swearing-in ceremony of President-elect Ivan Duque. According to a statement, the preventive measure comes over enhanced security concerns. Drones are prohibited from being operated within a radius of around four kilometres from the Plaza de Bolivar and Casa Narino in central Bogota. The ban will be in effect between 14:00 and 18:00 on Tuesday. Ivan Duque will replace President Juan Manuel Santos in a ceremony held at 15:00 in the Plaza de Bolivar. Enhanced security measures and roadblocks are expected.

Clan del Golfo senior member detained in San Rafael, Antioquia

Colombian authorities have confirmed that a senior commander of the paramilitary group Clan del Golfo has been detained in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Carlos Tuberquia Moreno, alias 'Nicolas', was arrested during a joint operation in San Rafael. He is known for being a close official to Clan del Golfo's leader Dairo Antonio Usuga, alias 'Otoniel'. Clan del Golfo is Colombia's largest paramilitary group, which is engaged in drug-trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and armed attacks.

Security measures heightened ahead of presidential swearing-in ceremony

Security measures will be reinforced across central Bogota and major transport hubs ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of President-elect Ivan Duque. Police officers and soldiers were deployed to Bogota's Plaza de Bolivar, where thousands are expected to attend the event on Tuesday afternoon. Several roads around the Casa de Narino and the Plaza de Bolivar will be blocked. Security measures will also be enhanced around hotels and Bogota's El Dorado International Airport.

Two reporters killed in separate incidents in south-western Colombia

A 29-year-old journalist has been killed after armed men opened fire on his motorcycle in Tulua, Cauca Valley. Jairo Calderon Plazas was travelling with his partner when he was targeted in the Municipal neighbourhood. Preliminary reports suggest that he hadn't been threatened recently. Calderon's death came hours after a radio reporter was killed in Suarez, Cauca. Valentin Tezada Rua was killed after he was reportedly lured to an undisclosed location. Journalists in Colombia are often targeted and face threats from criminal groups, especially in rural areas.

Thousands affected after dozens of Aviaca flights are cancelled

Thousands of passengers have been affected after more than 20 Avianca flights were cancelled on Thursday. According to the company, more than 2,000 passengers were affected due to operational motives. The company temporarily suspended the selling of domestic and international flights - tickets for international flights have already resumed on Friday morning. Operations are likely to continue to be disrupted throughout the next few days. Passengers are advised to directly contact the company for flight status updates.

Thousands of Venezuelans migrants granted visa to stay in Colombia

President Juan Manuel Santos has signed a presidential order which will grant a temporary residential visa to more than 440,000 Venezuelans. In a statement released on Thursday, President Santos said that the special visa will allow registered Venezuelans to remain in the country for up to two years. It will also grant them access to the Colombian health system. It is estimated that more than one million Venezuelans migrated to Colombia in the last 15 months.

President Santos meets FARC leadership in Bogota

Outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos and senior members of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) have met the presidential palace days before President-elect Ivan Duque is sworn into office. President Santos met with FARC's leader Rodrigo Londono, where they discussed further guidelines of the peace accord and the protection to former FARC militants. Ivan Duque's Democratic Centre (CD) was one of the main critics of the FARC peace deal and is expected to push for further changes to some aspects of the agreement.

Widespread flooding affects thousands in Guainia and Vichada

Thousands of families have been affected after inclement weather hit south-eastern Colombia. Reports revealed that around 9,500 families were affected due to widespread flooding in Guainia and Vichada departments. Weather alerts remain in place to some departments in north-western Colombia due to risks of landslides and flooding over the coming days.

Military seizes submarine loaded with drugs off Cauca

Colombia's Navy has announced that around 750kg of cocaine has been seized during a military operation off the southern Colombian coast. In a statement, officials said that a submarine was intercepted near the Isla Gorgona, located off the coast of Cauca department. This is the latest drug bust in Colombia, which is one of the world's largest producers of cocaine. According to reports, more than 58 tonnes of drugs were seized in 2018.

Government and ELN fail to reach ceasefire deal

Colombia's government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) have failed to reach an agreement to launch a temporary bilateral ceasefire amid the peace negotiations held in Havana, Cuba. However, President Juan Manuel Santos and ELN's chief negotiator, Pablo Beltran, acknowledged some advances in the talks. This was the sixth and final round of talks with the ELN before President Santos steps down from office on Tuesday. His successor, Ivan Duque, is highly expected to launch a more incisive approach to the negotiations, while at the same time promoting changes to the peace deal reached with the FARC.

Supreme Court suspends probe against former President Uribe

Colombia's Supreme Court has suspended investigations against former President Alvaro Uribe after his lawyers challenged the impartiality of the case's judges. Uribe resigned last week his seat in Senate after he was summoned to testify in a criminal inquiry. He is being accused of witness tampering, regarding a case where a rival senator falsely accused him of links to paramilitary groups. Uribe claims that three judges in charge of the case are biased and that all accusations are politically motivated. He said that he is not evading a trial, as it may be delayed for several weeks.

Heavy rainfall triggers nationwide weather alert

Colombia's Institute of Hydrology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) has issued a red weather as heavy rainfall is forecast to affect at least five departments across Colombia. Residents living near rivers in Meta, Guainia, Antioquia, Vichada and Santander are advised caution as downpour may cause them to overflow. Another alert was also issued to the Pacifico and Orinoquia regions due to risks associated with landslides.

Seven killed in armed attack in El Tarra, Norte de Santander

At least seven people have been killed and three others were severely injured when gunmen raided a store in El Tarra, Norte de Santander. Local media reported that the shooting broke out on Monday afternoon in the central neighbourhood of Villa Esperanza. President-elect Ivan Duque has condemned the attack. Preliminary reports from the ministry of defence, suggest that the incident may be linked to a dispute between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and Los Pelusos gang. The region is at the centre of violent territorial clashes involving the ELN and paramilitary groups.

Soldier killed in clashes with the ELN in El Tambo, Cauca

A soldier has been killed and two others were injured during armed clashes with the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Cauca, south-western Colombia. Military sources said that soldiers were ambushed in Playa Rica, located in the rural area of El Tambo. It is believed that the militants were part of the ELN Jose Maria Becerra Front, which widely operates in the region. 

FARC dissidents killed during military operation in Tumaco, Narino

At least two dissident FARC members have been killed during a military operation in Narino, south-western Colombia. According to the Army, the operation took place in the Viento Libre neighbourhood in the rural area of Tumaco. The move came as part of a series of raids carried out under the operation dubbed 'Safe Tumaco', which seeks to tackle militant groups based in the region. Security measures have been significantly heightened in southern Colombia due to the presence of FARC dissidents along the Ecuadorian border.

Child killed as heavy rainfall hits San Gil, Santander

An eight-year-old child has died after heavy rainfall caused a wall to collapse in Santander, north-eastern Colombia. EFE reported that a dozen others were injured and several houses in the town of San Gil were destroyed. Dozens of vehicles were damaged when floods hit the streets. 

Senior ELN leader killed in San Pablo, Bolivar

A senior member of the National Liberation Army (ELN) has been killed during a military operation in Bolivar, northern Colombia. According to the ministry of defence, alias 'Samuelito' was killed in the rural area of San Pablo, located in the southern region of the department. He is believed to belong to the ELN for more than 30 years and to have recently returned from Venezuela. Earlier in the week, Colombia's military raised concerns of ELN leaders being based in Venezuela.

ELN seek to reach new ceasefire deal to allow humanitarian aid

The National Liberation Army (ELN) is reportedly seeking to reach a ceasefire deal with the Colombian government to allow humanitarian aid to some heavily targeted areas. In a statement, ELN's chief negotiator, Pablo Beltran, has said that the group also demands that the government address the rising number of assassinations of social leaders in Colombia. The ELN is the country's largest guerrilla group, which is currently engaged in turbulent peace talks with the government. Previous ceasefires proved to be effective but were not enough to reduce subsequent ELN operations.

FARC senator raises concerns over killing of former guerrillas

The Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) has raised concerns over the death of dozens of former FARC militants since the peace agreement was signed. FARC Senator Victoria Sandino said that 66 former FARC guerrillas were killed alongside 20 of their family members. Such concerns are shared with the UN Mission in Colombia, which is verifying the implementation of the peace deal.

Senator Alvaro Uribe quits senate after court summons

Former President Alvaro Uribe has resigned from his seat in the Senate after he was summoned to testify in a criminal inquiry. His resignation regards a case investigating a previous feud between Uribe and Senator Ivan Cepeda. Investigations date back to 2012, when Uribe claimed that Cepeda falsely accused him of having ties to the right-wing paramilitary groups. Uribe is an influential member of the Democratic Centre Party (CD) and was responsible for fierce counter-insurgency policies during his presidency. He is one of the closest allies of President-elect Ivan Duque.

Social leader killed in Jamundi, Cauca Valley

A 76-year-old social leader has been gunned down in Cauca Valley, western Colombia. Local authorities informed that Libardo Moreno was targeted on Tuesday afternoon when he stopped on a road to assist two stranded motorcyclists in Jamundi. Morano was shot multiple times before the assailants left the scene. In recent years, Colombia has faced a surge in the killing of local leaders - since 2016, it is estimated that more than 300 were killed nationwide. Moreno's death came days after the ministry of interior met with local officials to draft measures to protect social leaders.

Military seizes Clan del Golfo's gold cache in Cali

Colombia's military has reportedly seized more than 54kg in gold during an anti-drugs operation in Cali. According to the military, the gold bars were found inside an abandoned house on Sunday. It is believed that the gold - which is worth more than $2m - belong to the paramilitary Clan del Golfo. Since the FARC peace deal, the group has intensified its operations to secure lucrative drug-trafficking territory in Colombia.

Authorities issue warning for large waves along Pacific coast

Colombia's maritime authority has issued a warning for large waves along the country's Pacific coast. In a statement, Dimar said that waves are expected to reach up to three metres until Wednesday. Caution is highly advised, particularly when heading towards the open sea. Travellers are advised to check local authorities' recommendations when heading towards the coastal areas, especially across tourist destinations.

FARC members take part in first congressional session

Members of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) have taken part in the first congressional session since the 2016 peace deal. Under the agreement, FARC members were granted five seats in both houses of Congress. Eight of the 10 members took part in last Friday's session. Among those absent was alias Jesus Santrich, who is facing extradition proceedings to the US, and Ivan Marquez, who renounced in protest.

Roadside bomb kills three FARC dissidents in Arauca

Three suspected dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been killed when a roadside bomb exploded in Arauca, northern Colombia. According to the police, the incident happened in the bordering town of Arauquita. Reports suggest that the device prematurely went off while militants were heading towards the border with Venezuela. The area is known for the presence of FARC dissidents and militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN), which are currently engaged in violent territorial disputes along the Venezuelan border.

Oil pipeline resumes operations after series of bomb attacks

Colombia's military has announced that operations of the Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline have resumed nearly six months after a number of bomb attacks from the National Liberation Army (ELN). The 774-kilometre pipeline was targeted dozens of times throughout the year, while authorities also identified dozens of illegal taps. The ELN is currently engaged in peace talks with the Colombian government in Cuba. However, some of its militant fronts continue to launch attacks, mostly across northern Colombian departments.

Teachers to launch nationwide strike on 25 July

Teachers and education professionals have called for a nationwide strike to demand better working conditions and further funding to education in Colombia. The strike was called by the influential Colombian Teachers Federation (Fecode) that also underlined the increasing to threats and intimidation towards teachers. Marches are scheduled to take place on 25 July across major departmental capitals.

Social leader found dead in Suarez, Cauca

A social leader has been found dead days after being presumably kidnapped from his home in Cauca, south-western Colombia. Ibes Trujillo was reported missing last week when armed criminals raided his home in the northern town of Suarez. Trujillo was involved in a number of local social projects in the rural area of Suarez and Buenos Aires. Since the FARC peace deal, threats and attacks against social leaders have intensified, especially in coca-rich areas where the government presence is virtually nonexistent.

Authorities detain journalists' kidnapper in Tumaco, Narino

Colombian authorities have confirmed on Tuesday that the suspected kidnapper behind the abduction of the Ecuadorian media team has been detained during a military raid in Narino, south-western Colombia. According to the military, alias 'Cherry' was detained alongside 14 other FARC dissidents in the coastal town of Tumaco, located near the Ecuadorian border. 'Cherry' is believed to be linked to alias 'Guacho', who leads the FARC dissident front Oliver Sinisterra, which has been involved in a number of kidnaps and cross-border attacks.

FARC dissidents detained in military raid in Tame, Arauca

Nearly a dozen dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been detained in a military operation in Arauca, northern Colombia. According to the military, the operation took place on Saturday in Tame. The group is accused of extortion, murder and armed attacks across Arauca. The region is home to several paramilitary and militant groups, which often target security forces.

FARC's Ivan Marquez refuses to take office over peace deal row

A senior member of the reborn Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) has said on Monday that he is not swearing in as a senator in protest against the government approach to the peace deal. Ivan Marquez, one of the most senior members of the FARC, has previously rejected calls to assume his place as a senator in protest against the detention of Jesus Santrich, who is accused of drug-trafficking. Under the current deal, the FARC was granted five seats in both houses of Congress for two terms. Last week, senior FARC leaders faced trial before the Special Jurisdiction Court (JEP).

Two police officers killed in Puerto Valdivia, Antioquia

Two police officers have been killed after armed criminals targeted their patrol vehicle in Puerto Valdivia, Antioquia. Local media reported that the attack happened on Friday afternoon. Both victims were patrolling the town, which was recently ordered to evacuate due to concerns linked to failures of the Hidroituango dam. Last month, a soldier was also killed in Puerto Valdivia while undertaking humanitarian work to assist in the mandatory evacuations along the Cauca River.

Three investigators killed during ambush in Narino

Three investigators have been killed in an armed attack in Narino, south-western Colombia. According to the police, the attack happened on Wednesday afternoon on the road between Tumaco and Pasto. All victims were investigators linked to the attorney's general office. Reports showed that the victims were shot before their vehicle was set ablaze. The attack has been attributed to FARC dissidents part of the Oliver Sinisterra Front, which operates along the Ecuadorian border. 

Hundreds displaced due to armed clashes in Narino

More than 430 people have been displaced due to armed clashes between FARC dissidents of the Oliver Sinisterra Front and the criminal group Gente del Orden. According to a report released on Tuesday by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), clashes erupted last week in the rural area of Roberto Payan, Narino Department. FARC dissidents often engage in clashes with paramilitary groups and criminal entities in southern Colombia. They have been engaged in a number of activities, including extortion, drug-trafficking and kidnapping.

President Santos signs law to promote surrender of subversive groups

President Juan Manuel Santos has signed into law a bill which seeks to promote the demobilisation of guerrilla, dissident and paramilitary groups in exchange for some benefits. With the new approach, the government main focus is the demobilisation of the Clan del Golfo, Colombia's largest paramilitary group. The group has significantly increased its presence after the FARC peace deal and it is often engaged in clashes with the ELN to secure key drug-trafficking routes and territory.

Former FARC leaders to appear in court over kidnapping cases

Former leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are set to appear before special peace tribunals regarding kidnapping cases committed by the group between 1992 and 2001. Thirty-two former senior FARC members - including FARC leader Rodrigo Londono - will be put on trial before the Special Jurisdiction Court (JEP) which was created as part of the FARC peace deal.

Soldier killed during ELN clashes in Choco

A soldier has been killed during clashes between the military and the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Choco, north-western Colombia. Cesar Samboni Bravo was killed when his platoon was targeted in the rural area of San Jose de Palmar. The incident happened hours before a police station was targeted in Andagoya. The ELN and other paramilitary groups widely operate in Choco.

Roadside bomb injuries eight soldiers in Buenaventura, Cauca Valley

Eight soldiers have been injured after a roadside bomb hit a military convoy in the Cauca Valley, south-western Colombia. According to the Colombian Navy, the attack happened in the area of Bajo Calima in Buenaventura. It is believed that the device was planted by members of the Ernesto Che Guevara Front of the National Liberation Army (ELN). Buenaventura is an isolated port city where criminal and paramilitary groups operate. The attack came days after the ELN and the government resumed peace talks in Havana, Cuba.

Community leader killed in Tumaco, Narino

A community leader in the south-western department of Narino has been killed in a fresh armed attack targeting social leaders in Colombia. Margarita Estupinan was killed on Tuesday evening near her house in Tumaco, a coastal town where paramilitary and militant groups operate. The incident happened hours after a political campaigner for presidential candidate Gustavo Petro was assassinated in Caceres, Antioquia.

Social leaders killed in separate incidents in Choco and Atlantico

Two social leaders have been killed in separate attacks across northern Colombia. In Choco department, Felicinda Santamaria, a local community leader, was killed when gunmen opened fire on her in the rural area of Quibdo. The incident came hours before another community leader was killed in Atlantico. Luis Barrios Machado was watching a World Cup match when gunmen stormed his residence in Palmar de Varela. Recent reports revealed that more than 40 social leaders were killed across Colombia since the start of the year.

Bodies of kidnapped couple reportedly found in Tumaco, Narino

Colombian authorities have reported that the bodies of a kidnapped Ecuadorian couple have been recovered in the rural area of Tumaco, Narino. Investigations are still ongoing to assess if the bodies belong to Katty Velasco and Oscar Villacis, who were kidnapped by dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) back in April along the Ecuadorian border. The bodies were recovered during a joint operation in south-western Colombia. The findings come days after the bodies of a kidnapped media team were also recovered in the same region.

Seven people found dead in Argelia, Cauca

At least seven people have been found dead in a remote rural area in Cauca, south-western Colombia. Police said that the victims were found with gunshot wounds in the rural area of Argelia. The area is renowned for criminal and paramilitary groups dedicated to drug-trafficking.

Police vehicle targeted with explosives in Antioquia

A police vehicle transporting seven members of the Clan del Golfo group was targeted with explosives in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Local media reported that the vehicle was attacked with a grenade along the road between Turbo and Apartado. No casualties were reported. Authorities believe that the attack was carried out in retaliation for the recent military crackdown against the group's operations in the region.

Clan del Golfo militants detained in operation across northern Colombia

More than a dozen members of the Clan de Golfo group have been detained during a joint military operation across northern Colombia. According to military sources, the operations took place in the departments of Antioquia, Bolivar, Magdalena and Sucre. It is believed that the militants were dedicated due to extortion activities across Sucre and Bolivar. Further reports also revealed that another operation against the group was launched in Antioquia and Choco, where the equivalent to $1.3m was seized. Clan del Golfo is Colombia's largest paramilitary group.

Government talks with the ELN resume in Havana, Cuba

The National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Colombian government have resumed the peace talks on Monday. The dialogue has entered its sixth round in Havana, Cuba after no agreement was reached in the previous meetings. The ELN accused the government of failing to uphold its side of the negotiations regarding a potential ceasefire, while the government called on the ELN to cease its criminal operations. The ELN talks could change track under the administration of president-elect Ivan Duque, which will likely engage in a hard-line approach against the group.

Senate approves changes to FARC special peace tribunal

Colombia's Senate has approved significant changes to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) agreed under the peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Most JEP articles that were originally agreed upon were approved but two major changes were introduced. They regard the creation of a separate special tribunal to try members of the military involved in the conflict and prohibits JEP to have jurisdiction over independent investigations. The Democratic Centre (CD), the party of president-elect Ivan Duque, praised the move, while President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londono claimed that such changes are unconstitutional.

Dozens linked to FARC dissidents detained in cross-border operation

More than 80 suspected militants linked to a dissident front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been detained during a joint cross-border operation. Ecuador's Interior Minister Mauro Toscanini has confirmed that 52 people were detained in Ecuador and 30 others were arrested in Colombia. Authorities believe that the suspects are linked to the dissident FARC front known as Oliver Sinisterra, which widely operate along the border and is led by alias 'Guacho'. The announcement comes after the bodies of three kidnapped media professionals arrived in Ecuador.

Low-flying drones to be used to fumigate illicit crops

President Juan Manuel Santos has announced that the government will proceed with the use of drones to eradicate illicit coca crops nationwide. The move comes after a US government report revealed that coca cultivation in Colombia has significantly increased. Drones will fly at low altitude and release glyphosate, a herbicide used in previous aerial fumigation efforts.

Congress approves bill to promote demobilisation of militant groups

Colombia's congress has approved a bill which seeks to promote the demobilisation of guerrilla, dissident and paramilitary groups in exchange of some benefits. The main guidelines refer to a steep reduction in prison sentences to militants that choose to surrender. The bill has been supported by major parties, including the opposition Democratic Centre (CD), which recently elected the country's new president, Ivan Duque. The bill still has to be signed into law by outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos.

Bodies of kidnapped media team reportedly found in Tumaco, Narino

President Juan Manuel Santos has announced that the bodies of the Ecuadorian press team kidnapped back in March may have been found. President Santos said on Twitter that investigations are still ongoing to assess if the bodies belong to three members of the media team of the Ecuadorian-based media outlet El Comercio. The bodies were reportedly found in the rural area of Tumaco, south-western Colombia. The incident has been attributed to a dissident front of the FARC, the Oliver Sinisterra Front, led by alias 'Guacho', which widely operate along the border.

Ivan Duque wins election victory

On Sunday, 41-year-old Ivan Duque, who was unknown on the political scene a year ago, won the presidency of Colombia. Mr Duque won 54 percent of the vote, and has promised to overhaul the agreement with FARC rebels which guaranteed them seats in Congress and permitted them to contest elections.  He is also keen to cut taxes and boost investment, raising money by shrinking the state.    

Airstrike kills 16 FARC in Fortul

As many as 16 FARC dissidents have been killed in an airstrike in the northeastern rural area of Fortul, Arauca. According to local reports, the airstrike was carried out by the Colombian armed forces with aerial assistance. The alleged leader of the rogue guerrilla unit, alias 'El Burro' is thought to be among those killed in the operation.

Jungle cocaine laboratory destroyed in Narino

On 10 June, authorities reported the destruction of a clandestine cocaine laboratory in Barbacoas, Narino.  The facility was allegedly operated by a group of FARC dissidents in the area, and was capable of producing five tonnes of cocaine a month.  

Strong winds affect hundreds across Sucre

Hundreds of people have been affected after strong winds ravaged through Sucre, northern Colombia. The area most affected was the town of San Marcos. Local officials revealed that such phenomenon has been triggered due to the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which kicked off last week and will last until September. Colombia's National Disaster Management Unit (UNGRD), issued a warning to the northern departments of La Guajira, Bolivar, Atlantico, Magdalena, Sucre, Cordoba, Choco and Antioquia, which may face adverse weather during this period. Warnings were also issued to the archipelagos of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina. 

Hundreds displaced due to armed clashes in Norte de Santander

More than 500 people have been displaced due to intense clashes between the military and members of the People's Liberation Army (EPL) in the restive Catatumbo region, Norte de Santander. Tensions are particularly high in the rural areas of Hacari. According to reports from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), two civilians have been injured since clashes first broke out over the weekend. The EPL and the National Liberation Army (ELN) are currently engaged in violent territorial disputes in the region despite plans to hold peace talks.

FARC dissidents killed during military operation in Narino

At least six dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been killed during a joint military operation in Narino, south-western Colombia. Military sources told AFP that the raid happened around La Guayacana area in Tumaco. The operation targeted the leader of the FARC dissident front Oliver Sinisterra, which widely operates along the Ecuadorian border. A number of operations have been recently launched in the region to capture alias 'Guacho', who is responsible for a number of kidnaps and cross-border bomb attacks.

Soldier killed during FARC dissident attack in Briceno, Antioquia

A soldier has been killed during an armed ambush in Antioquia, northern Colombia. Edinson Ariza Jaramillo was killed in Briceno on Saturday. According to the Army, his platoon was targeted around the rural area of Montebello. Meanwhile, the military also informed that a cache of explosives was recovered and destroyed in the town of Anori - reports suggest that they belong to the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Presumed militants kill soldier in Puerto Valdivia, Antioquia

A soldier has been killed during violent clashes with presumed militants in Antioquia, northern Colombia. According to military sources, the soldier was engaged in humanitarian works across Puerto Valdivia when he and his team were attacked in the rural area of Raudal. The area has been particularly affected by the crisis involving the Hidroituango dam, which is at risk of failure. 

Political parties announce their endorsement ahead of presidential runoff

Colombia's major political parties have announced their endorsement on the presidential race between conservative Ivan Duque and left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro who are set to dispute a runoff vote in mid-June. Members of the ruling Partido de la U gave permission to its supporters to freely choose between both candidates. On the other side, the Liberal Party chose to support Duque. The main dispute involves voters from the coalition led by Sergio Fajardo, who came in a close third place with more than 23 percent of the votes - one of the coalition partners, Polo Democratico, chose to endorse Petro.

Four towns in Antioquia to be evacuated over potential dam failure

Four towns located along the Cauca river were ordered to evacuate due to potential risks of flooding from the Ituango hydroelectric dam in Antioquia, northern Colombia. According to the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD), preventive evacuation measures will be launched in the towns of Puerto Valdivia, Puerto Antioquia, Caceres and Taraza. The move came after authorities identified fresh earth movement and landslides in the region. More than 120,000 people across the region are already under evacuation orders due to the dam's risk of failure.

FARC dissidents killed during military raid in Caqueta

Colombia's ministry of defence has confirmed that nearly a dozen dissident members of the FARC were killed during a military operation in Caqueta, southern Colombia. According to a statement, the operation took place in the rural area of La Montanita, where a dissident front led by alias 'Cadete' operates. It is estimated that more than 1,000 militants are still active across a number of dissident fronts in southern Colombia.

Ivan Duque to face Gustavo Petro in presidential run off vote

Millions of Colombians headed to the polls on Sunday to cast their ballots in the country's presidential elections. Official results revealed that the centre-right candidate for the Democratic Centre (CD), Ivan Duque, garnered around 39.1 percent of the votes, against his main rival, former Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro, who got around 25.1 percent. In a close third place came former Medellin Mayor Sergio Fajardo, who got 23.7 percent of the votes. The elections turn out was 53.4 percent, one of the highest in recent history. Duque and Petro are set to face each other in the presidential run-off vote scheduled for 17 June.

Colombians to cast their ballots ahead of presidential vote

Colombians are set to head to the polls on Sunday ahead of the country's presidential elections. Preliminary polls suggest that the centre-right candidate for the opposition Democratic Centre, Ivan Duque, holds a large advantage against his main rival, former Bogota mayor Gustavo Petro. Duque is backed by former-President Alvaro Uribe, a fierce opponent to the FARC peace deal. Petro, on the other hand, has launched accusations of potential fraud to the electoral system, which prompted international observers to reinforce their mission. This is the first presidential vote since the FARC peace deal was brokered. FARC's presidential aspirations were short-lived after its leader, Rodrigo Timochenko, quit his bid due to ill health.

Argentinian guide tour kidnapped and killed in Cauca

A 47-year-old Argentinian guide tour has been found dead days after being kidnapped in Cauca, western Colombia. Reports revealed that Monica Berenice Blanco was abducted alongside a group of Israeli tourists during a so-called 'Cannabis Tour', which included a visit to marijuana plantations on the outskirts of Cali. Blanco was found dead in the rural area of Corinto, while all tourists were released three days after their abduction. Local media revealed that the assailants demanded a $100k ransom in exchange for her release. Police officers said that dissident FARC militants and Clan del Golfo members widely operate in the area.

Hundreds displaced after armed group raid village in Choco

Hundreds of people have been displaced after armed criminals raided an indigenous village in Choco, north-western Colombia. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), nearly 700 people were forced to leave their homes in the Embera community in Bajo Baudo. Violence in the area first erupted nearly 10 days ago. OCHA informed that local communities are concerned over the presence of unexploded ordnance in the area.

Indigenous tribe displaced after armed attack in Cucuta

More than 100 indigenous people have been displaced after a reported armed attack to a camp in Cucuta, Norte de Santander. Amnesty International has confirmed that the attack happened last Friday in the Nuevo Escobal neighbourhood - the shelter was housing more than 300 people. No immediate reports of casualties were released. Most of the victims affected were members of the indigenous Yukpa tribe, which recently fled from Venezuela.

Antioquia's Ituango Dam at high risk of failure

A maximum alert has been issued to communities located along the Cauca river in Antioquia due to the high risk of critical failure of the Ituango Dam in northern Colombia. More than 120,000 people are under evacuation orders as more than 8,000 residents across Taraza, Caceres and Caucasia were already evacuated. UN and International Civil Protection officials are being deployed to the region to assess the situation. Rainfall in set to continue for the next few in the area, which is already under warning for the risk of landslides and widespread flooding.

Two killed in presumed arson attack in Santander de Quilichao, Cauca

At least two people have been injured when a massive fire destroyed more than a dozen buildings in Santander de Quilichao, Cauca. The incident happened in the early hours of Monday morning in the central area of the city. El Pais reported that preliminary investigations suggest that the fire was caused due to an arson attack against a local businessman who was reportedly facing extortion. 

Former anti-corruption chief extradited to the US

Colombia's former anti-corruption chief, Luis Gustavo Moreno, was extradited to the US on Thursday. Moreno will be tried for money laundering and fraud. He was detained last year after he attempted to bribe a former governor to sideline court procedures against him - the negotiations took place in Miami, Florida, and were recorded by the Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA). Moreno has brokered a plea bargain deal with prosecutors to denounce more than 20 people, who were reportedly involved in a massive bribery scheme linked to high-level magistrates within Colombia's Supreme Court.

Special peace tribunal suspends FARC leader extradition to the US

Colombia's special peace tribunal, JEP, has ruled the suspension of the extradition request of former FARC leader Jesus Santrich to the US. In a statement, JEP said that the move comes in order to allow prosecutors to gather enough evidence to lawfully proceed with Santrich's extradition - a deadline of 10 days has been settled. Santrich was detained earlier in April on drug-trafficking charges from a US-based court. His imprisonment led to the deterioration of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) relations with the government. 

Thousands to evacuate over flooding at western Colombian dam

More than a dozen villages located along western Colombia's Cauca river have been forced to evacuate due to the imminent risk of flooding. It is believed that more than 100,000 people are being advised to leave their homes as the flow of water continues to increase downstream. Antioquia Governor Luis Perez Gutierrez declared a state of emergency on Monday, while President Juan Manuel Santos called for an emergency cabinet meeting. Floods are being caused by the construction of the controversial Hidroituango dam project, which has already affected more than 600 people.

Military operation kills eight FARC dissidents in Putumayo

At least eight FARC dissidents were killed and three others were injured during a military operation in Putumayo, southern Colombia. According to the military and the Colombian ministry of defence, the operation targeted members of the Seventh Front of the group, which are allegedly behind a number of kidnaps and attacks against security forces. The operation took place in the rural area of Puerto Asis. Since the FARC demobilisation, dissident fronts spread across the country, especially through the southern departments of Putumayo and Narino.

Hundreds evacuated due to floods in Puerto Valdivia, Antioquia

Hundreds of people were evacuated due to widespread flooding in Puerto Valdivia, Antioquia. Authorities revealed on Sunday that heavy rainfall coupled with construction works of the Hidroituango dam project widely affected residents in the town and several low-ground villages along the Cauca river. An alert was issued to the town of Ituango, Briceno, Caceres, Taraza, Caucasia and Nechi over the risk of flooding. 

ELN to suspend operations during general election

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has announced plans to halt their military operations during the upcoming elections scheduled later in the month. In a statement released on Twitter, the group said that its activities will be suspended between 25 and 29 May. The move comes after the government and the ELN resumed their turbulent negotiations in Havana, Cuba. Elections are scheduled to take place on 27 May.

Landslides trigger disruption along Bogota-Villavicencio highway

The main road between Bogota and Villavicencio was blocked after heavy rainfall triggered landslides over the weekend. Although the road was reopened on Sunday evening, several areas along the so-called Autopista al Llano (Highway 40) are still facing disruption due to traffic restrictions. Drivers are advised to take caution while driving in the area over the increasing risks of rockfall. 

Missing British traveller found dead at waterfall in Putumayo

A 24-year-old British traveller has been found dead at the bottom of a waterfall in Putumayo department, southern Colombia. Joe Tilley was reported missing last week. Reports revealed that his body was recovered at the Fin del Mundo waterfall, located near the town of Mocoa. It is believed that Tilley fell to his death. Reports suggest that he was travelling and volunteering across South America.

Armed assailants kidnap social leader in Cauca

An Afro-Colombian social leader has been kidnapped after heavily armed assailants raided his boat in western Colombia. The victim has been identified as Iber Angulo Zamora, who was attacked while travelling along the Naya river - on the border between Cauca and Cauca Valley departments - from Lopez de Micay towards Buenaventura. He was part of a humanitarian mission backed by a commission within the local ombudsman office, which provided guards to secure the journey. Colombia's Navy was later deployed to Santa Maria to launch a rescue operation.

Thousands without power after FARC dissident attack in Narino

More than 200,000 people have been affected after suspected FARC dissidents targeted two electricity transformers Narino, south-western Colombia. Reports revealed that the attack happened along the road between the towns of Pasto and Tumaco, close to the Ecuadorian border. Authorities believe that alias 'Guacho', who leads the Oliver Sinisterra front, is behind the attack. Security tensions remain high along the Ecuadorian border, where FARC dissidents have recently launched a number of attacks against infrastructure and security forces.

Community leader killed in Puerto Valdivia, Antioquia

A community leader in the northern department of Antioquia has been gunned down in Puerto Valdivia. Luis Alberto Torres Montoya was killed while working in the rural sector of El Pescadero. Torres was part of the Rios Vivos Antioquia Movement, which counters the construction of the Hidroituango hydroelectric project. He was killed nearly a week after another Rios Vivos environmental leader was murdered in the same town. According to Rios Vivos, more than 500 people were displaced due to the change in course of the Cauca River.

Peace talks with the ELN to be resumed in Cuba

Cuba's foreign ministry has stated that talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) are set to be resumed on Thursday. Peace negotiations with Colombia's largest guerrilla group have faded after the ELN resumed their armed insurgency. Talks were being previously held in Ecuador, which chose to withdraw its role as a mediator after a number of incidents broke out along the bordering area.

Flight disruptions reported across major regional airports

Colombia's Civil Aviation authority has confirmed that the airports of Carepa, Popayan, Cartago, Armenia and Guaymaral are currently closed. Wednesday's operations at the airports of Leticia, Ibague, Valledupar and Bucaramanga are also facing disruptions. Some delays are also being reported at Bogota's El Dorado International Airport (BOG). Passengers are advised to check for flight status updates with their respective airlines.

Presidential candidates' security reinforced over threats

Colombia's police have stated that security measures to protect presidential candidates will be reinforced to avoid potential attacks during the campaign period. The measure is set to be implemented due to a number of threats that the candidates have reportedly received in recent weeks. Last week, the police warned conservative presidential candidate Ivan Duque of a potential attack against his campaign headquarters. The security detail on former President Alvaro Uribe will also be reinforced.

Weather alert issued due to flood risks in western Colombia

Colombia's Institute of Hydrology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) has issued a weather alert due to the potential risk of floods in western and northern Colombia. The alert includes areas located around major rivers across the departments of Guaviare, Arauca, Norte de Santander, Caldas, Cundinamarca, Santander, Antioquia, Cordoba, Choco, Valle del Cauca and Cauca. A lower alert has also been issued to most departments in western and southern Colombia.

Flight disruptions reported at Medellin's Olaya Herrera Airport

Flight disruptions are currently being reported at Medellin's Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH). Flights are facing severe delays and cancellations as operations are being gradually resumed after the airport was closed on Monday and Tuesday morning due to adverse weather conditions. Passengers have been advised to check for flight status updates before heading to the airport. EOH mainly serves regional and domestic flights.

Cuba to host ELN talks after Ecuador drops its mediation role

Cuba is set to be the new host of the turbulent peace talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN). The country - Cuba already hosted the FARC talks - is being chosen after Ecuador suspended its role as a mediator due to the rise of the ELN aggression. Since the start of the year, talks with the ELN have faded after the group resumed its armed campaign across Colombia.

Conservative candidate security reinforced after potential plot

Colombian police reportedly warned conservative presidential candidate Ivan Duque of a potential attack against his campaign headquarters. Security measures have been reinforced after reports of a plot to send him a parcel bomb emerged. Duque is leading the polls ahead of the presidential vote later in the month. He is the candidate of the Democratic Centre (CD), which seeks to make changes to the FARC peace deal.

Soldiers killed in military attack in Guaviare

Two soldiers have been killed and another was injured during a militant attack in the rural area San Jose de Guaviare, central Colombia. According to military sources, the soldiers were patrolling the Puerto Cachicamo sector when they were targeted with explosives. The attack was attributed to FARC dissidents part of the Seventh Front, which widely operates in the region. 

Military recovers cache of explosives in Ricaurte, Narino

A cache of explosives presumably belonging to the National Liberation Army (ELN) has been recovered in Narino, south-western Colombia. Military reports revealed that more than 130 home-made explosive devices were found in the rural area of Ricaurte. Security measures in the region have been heightened to protect key electrical and oil infrastructures. Last month, FARC dissidents targeted an oil pipeline in the area.

Authorities investigate FARC leader for drug-trafficking links

US and Colombian authorities are reportedly investigating FARC Senator Ivan Marquez for drug-trafficking allegations. According to the WSJ, the move comes after investigators intercepted a drug-deal between him and a Mexican-based trafficker. Marquez's probe comes after former FARC leader alias Jesus Santrich was detained in early-April. Marquez temporarily changes his residence to the department of Cordoba after Santrich's arrest. Both probes may widely influence the outcome of the current implementation of the peace deal between the FARC and the government.

ELN kills two soldiers in Arauquita, Arauca

Two soldiers have been killed during clashes with National Liberation Army (ELN) militants in Arauca, north-eastern Colombia. According to the Colombian Army, the incident happened when their vehicle was ambushed in the area known as Puente Quinai in Arauquita, a town located near the Venezuelan border. Two civilians were also collaterally injured during the attack, which came as the Ecuadorian government called off the peace talks in the country until the ELN ceases its armed aggression in northern Colombia.

Jailed FARC leader taken to hospital over hunger strike

Jailed former FARC leader Jesus Santrich has been taken to a hospital after he engaged in a hunger strike. Santrich was detained earlier in the month on drug-trafficking charges from a US-based court. His imprisonment led to the deterioration of the FARC relations with the government. Such forced FARC Senator Ivan Marquez to temporarily move from Bogota to Caqueta in protest.

Thousands of malaria cases reported in Colombia

Colombia's National Health Institute (INS) revealed that more than 14,500 cases of malaria have already been reported in the country since the start of the year. The INS confirmed that most cases occurred in Choco department, while cases also continue to be reported in the Narino, Cordoba, Antioquia, Guainia, Amazonas, Bolivar and Vichada departments. Although the number of cases is considerably high, the current rate suffered an 11 percent drop compared with the same period last year.

Several killed in separate incidents across western Medellin

At least six people have been killed in separate incidents across western Medellin, Antioquia. All incidents were reported on Wednesday and mostly involved targeted murders in Laureles, San Javier, La America, La Candelaria and Robledo neighbourhoods. Last December, authorities reported a surge in violent territorial disputes in the area after a drug-lord of the Oficina del Envigado gang was detained.

ELN seeks ceasefire ahead of peace negotiations

The chief negotiator of the National Liberation Army (ELN) has announced that the group is seeking to launch a ceasefire ahead of the resumption of the peace negotiations later in the month. Pablo Beltran said that the group and the Colombian government are currently negotiating a bilateral ceasefire from 18 May in order to allow humanitarian aid to the most affected areas. The ELN and the Colombian government are set to resume their talks on 27 May.

Scores injured in paint factory blast in Medellin

At least 25 people have been injured after a fire broke out at a paint factory in Medellin, north-western Colombia. Most of the injured were firefighters, who were battling the flames when a powerful blast occurred. The incident happened on Tuesday afternoon in the city's Colon neighbourhood, which was cordoned off as emergency services were deployed to the area.

EPL kidnap ELN militants in Catatumbo

The People's Liberation Army (EPL) have reportedly kidnapped presumed members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) stationed in the restive Catatumbo region, northern Colombia. Chained ELN militants feature in a video where they call for a prisoner exchange and the end of the conflict. The video emerged after the EPL announced plans to hold talks with the ELN to cease the armed aggression in the region.

EPL to hold talks with the ELN over Catatumbo disputes

Members of the People's Liberation Army (EPL) have announced plans to hold talks with its main rival, the National Liberation Army (ELN). Both militant groups are currently engaged in violent disputes to secure territory vacated by the FARC in Catatumbo, Norte de Santander. The EPL further announced that the current 'armed strike' launched last week will be suspended on Thursday to allow aid workers to assist local communities.

UN raises concerns over social leaders detention in Cali

Colombia's UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has raised concerns after more than 30 social leaders were detained in Cali, western Colombia. Reports revealed that several social leaders mainly from Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities in Valle del Cauca and Narino were arrested over a range of accusations, including drug-trafficking. Social groups called the government for their release due to their active role in the conturbed peace process.

Clan del Golfo financial chief detained in Turbo, Antioquia

Colombia's Army has detained the financial chief of the notorious Clan del Golfo group. Angel Eusebio Usuga, alias 'Chengo', was arrested on Sunday during a military operation in Turbo, Antioquia. Chengo is the brother of Colombia's most wanted man, alias 'Otoniel', who leads the paramilitary group. This is the latest blow to the Clan del Golfo, which is currently attempting to reach a peace agreement with the government.

Jailed former paramilitary leader extradited to the US

One of the most infamous paramilitary leaders in Colombia is set to be extradited to the US. Daniel Rendon, alias 'Don Mario', was detained in 2009 amid negotiations with the Colombian government. Don Mario is one of the founders of the Clan del Golfo, which still operates in the country. President Juan Manuel Santos agreed his extradition nearly four years ago after a New York-based accused him of drug-trafficking.

Militants target oil pipeline in Tumaco, Narino

A fresh attack against an oil pipeline has been reported in the restive department of Narino, south-western Colombia. Ecopetrol has stated that the Transandino pipeline in Tumaco was targeted with explosives on Saturday evening. No major damage was reported. Over the last few months, tensions have remained high along the Ecuadorian border, which is at the centre of disputes between FARC dissidents and other militant groups. Last week, the Transandino pipeline was attacked in Ricaurte.

Soldier killed in ELN attack in Fortul, Arauca

A soldier has been killed after an armed attack from militants part of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Arauca, northern Colombia. According to the Army, the incident happened in the rural area of Fortul, where the military was disposing of seized explosives. The ELN continues widely active across northern Colombia. Talks have faded after the group resumed its attacks in January. Most recently, the Ecuadorian government announced the suspension of talks in Quito until the group ceases its military campaign in northern Colombia.

Three killed in Clan del Golfo clashes in Cordoba

At least three members of the paramilitary Clan del Golfo have been killed in military clashes in Cordoba, northern Colombia. Security sources revealed that the clashes broke out on Thursday in the rural areas of San Jose Ure and Taraza. Hundreds of people have been evacuated in recent months due to increased security risks related to the militant presence in the area.

Five killed in mine landslide near Anori, Antioquia

At least five people have been killed after a landslide struck a mine in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Local media reported that the incident happened on Thursday in the rural area of Anori. Preliminary reports that the landslide was caused by an accident with a bulldozer. Mining accidents in Colombia are common and usually occur because of a lack of health and safety regulations.

Thousands without power after militant attack in Narino

Hundreds of thousands of people suffered power outages on Wednesday after National Liberation Army (ELN) militants targeted a power grid in Narino, south-western Colombia. El Espectator reported that more than 270,000 people across Ricaurte, Barbacoas, Magui, Roberto Payan and Tumaco were affected. Army General Alberto Jose Mejia confirmed ELN involvement. Power is set to be gradually restored as engineers headed to the scene on Friday morning. This is the third attack against power facilities in Narino, where paramilitary and militant groups widely operate.

Civilians injured amid militant clashes in Norte de Santander

At least two civilians have been injured amid ongoing clashes between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the People's Liberation Army (EPL) in Norte de Santander. The most recent incident happened in the town of San Calixto, which is located in the restive Catatumbo region. For several days the region has been the main battleground between both groups to control lucrative drug-trafficking territory.

Ecuador suspends ELN talks mediation

Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno has announced on Wednesday plans to suspend the country's mediation in the peace talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN). In a statement, President Moreno said that such will last until the ELN cease its attacks in northern Colombia. The move comes after Ecuadorian security was recently shaken by recent attacks and kidnappings led by FARC dissidents stationed along the Colombian border.

Authorities arrest senior FARC dissident in Narino

Colombian authorities have announced that a senior dissident member has been detained in a police operation in Narino, south-western Colombia. In a press conference, General Jorge Nieto said that Vicente Canticus Pascial, alias 'Bryan', was arrested. Bryan is believed to be linked to alias 'Guacho' the head of the FARC dissident front Oliver Sinisterra, which is responsible for recent kidnappings and attacks along the Ecuadorian border.

Heavy rainfall triggers disruption nationwide

Heavy rainfall has triggered widespread disruption nationwide. Media reports revealed that in the last few days, two people were killed, while some areas in Cali suffered power outages. Roadblocks, flooding and landslides are also being reported in some regions. Authorities revealed that at least a dozen people have already been killed across the country since the start of the rainy season back in December. Further heavy rainfall is expected to affect most parts of the country over the next few days. The Colombian rainy season is set to last until June.

Violent crime surge reported in Santa Marta, Magdalena

The Canadian government travel advisory has issued a warning over the increasing levels of violent crime reported in Santa Marta, Magdalena department. Since the start of the year, purse snatching and armed robberies have been reported in the northern coastal city. Travellers have been advised to avoid walking alone after dark, avoid deserted areas and remain vigilant at all times.

Committee reopens graft investigation on President Santos

A parliamentary committee is set to reopen a corruption investigation linked to President Juan Manuel Santos, who is being investigated for receiving more than $450k from the scandal-riddled construction company Odebrecht to finance both of his presidential campaigns. Among the witnesses is former Senator Otto Bula, who was detained after receiving millions in bribes from the Brazilian-based company. The move seeks to assess the opening of a formal investigation into the president or the filing of the case.

Soldier killed during ELN stand off in Antioquia

A 27-year-old soldier has been killed during a shooting targeting members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. According to the military, Felipe Navarra Guevara was killed on Tuesday afternoon during a reconnaissance operation in a rural area in Remedios. Some areas of Antioquia are haunted by the presence of militant and paramilitary groups.

EPL launches armed strike in Catatumbo

Streets are deserted and public transportation was suspended as the People's Liberation Army (EPL) launched an armed strike in the restive Catatumbo region. Such comes after the EPL presumedly called for a so-called armed strike around rural areas near the Venezuelan border. The claims were dismissed by the Colombian government, which refused to acknowledge the strike. However, social media accounts revealed that the streets around Hacari, San Calixto, Teorama, El Tarra, Tibu and Convencion are completely empty. The EPL is currently engaged in a violent dispute to secure territory from the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Rainy season to last until mid-June

Colombia's Institute of Hydrology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) has announced that the country's current rainy season is forecast to last until mid-June. Departments across the Andean and Pacific regions are expected to be the most affected. According to the National Unit for Risk Management, a dozen people were killed - mainly due to landslides and flooding - and more than 1,000 families have been affected by the current rainy season so far.

Social leader kidnapped in Teorama, Norte de Santander

Presumed members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) have kidnapped a local social leader in Teorama, Norte de Santander. Jaider Santiago Manzano was taken from his home in La Muralla. Teorama is located in the restive Catatumbo area, where militant and paramilitary groups widely operate along the Venezuelan border. The incident comes just days after four people were kidnapped and later released in the region.

FARC dissidents target oil pipeline in Ricaurte, Narino

Suspected members of a dissident front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have launched an attack against an oil pipeline in Narino department, south-western Colombia. According to Ecopetrol, the incident happened on Friday against the Transandino pipeline in Ricaurte. Tensions remain high in the region as dissident FARC militants continue to launch attacks along the Ecuadorian border. 

Clan del Golfo kills eight police officers in Uraba, Antioquia

Eight police officers have been killed after a roadside bomb went off in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Reports revealed that a police patrol unit was escorting members of a land restitution team in the restive town of San Pedro de Uraba. The incident happened on Wednesday in the El Tomate area. The attack has been attributed to the Clan del Golfo group, which widely operates in northern Colombia. Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas confirmed that three assailants were killed in the stand-off.

Several heads of cattle slaughtered over FMD suspicion

More than a dozen heards of cattle have been slaughtered over their suspected infection from foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Colombia's Agriculture Minister Juan Guillermo Zuluaga told reporters that all of them were imported from Venezuela. Concerns were drawn last year after the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) removed Colombia's certificate which labelled the country as an FMD-free nation - the decision has since been reverted. FMD is not harmful to humans but is highly contagious to livestock.

Hundreds displaced due to armed clashes in Norte de Santander

More than 200 people have been forced to be evacuated due to ongoing militant clashes in San Calixto, Norte de Santander. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated on Tuesday that armed battles between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the People's Liberation Army (EPL) continue to threaten local communities. Furthermore, a number of roadside bombs across rural areas are being reported alongside explosives planted near schools.

Chief of peace deal fund sacked over alleged corruption links

President Juan Manuel Santos has sacked the director of the Colombia Peace Fund (FCP) over her alleged links to corruption and mismanagement. Gloria Ospina was the financial chief of the peace process. Prosecutors opened on Friday investigations after she allegedly granted over-priced contracts to subversive contractors. Several countries already raised concerns over the potential mismanagement within the FCP, which is a key tool to assure the guidelines stated under the FARC peace deal.

Oil spill emergency reported in Lisama, Santander

Colombian authorities have requested assistance from the UN Environment and the activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (EUCPM) after a massive oil spill hit the northern province of Santander. The oil spill emergency started back in early-March at an Ecopetrol's field in Lisama. People were forced to evacuate areas along the La Lizama and Sogamoso rivers - the latter a tributary to the Magdalena River, Colombia's largest water source.

Former FARC commander to be extradited after US court ruling

A former FARC senior commander has been detained and may face extradition after a New York-based court accused him of involvement in a conspiracy to export cocaine into the US. President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed that Seusis Hernandez, alias "Jesus Santrich", engaged in illegal activities after the peace accord with the group was brokered. He said that substantial evidence shows that Santrich smuggled up to 10 tonnes of cocaine to the US. The FARC political party condemned the move and said that the evidence was fabricated.

Flooding affects thousands in Narino

More than 4,500 people have been affected after intense rainfall battered the south-western areas in Narino department last week. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number is expected to increase as the emergency services assess the situation around the rural areas of Magui Payan. A red alert was issued to most departments in northern Colombia as heavy rain is expected to intensify over the next few days. So far, ten people have been killed during Colombia's current rainy season.

Mocoa still at risk nearly a year after deadly landslide

Investigations led by the National University of Colombia concluded that some areas around Mocoa are still under security risk due to last year's massive landslide. Geography Department's Professor German Vargas Cuervo said that intense rainfall may still cause rivers to overflow and trigger further landslides as the soil is still not settled. Mocoa is located in the department of Putumayo in southern Colombia. In April 2017, more than 330 people were killed and around 20,000 others were widely affected when heavy rainfall triggered flooding and landslides across the town.

ELN release hostages near Venezuela border

The ELN has released four hostages who were abducted near the border with Venezuela. The group were kidnapped in the Teorama municipality on Monday by a group purporting to be from the Guevarist organisation. Militants from the ELN have been clashing with former members of the Popular Liberation Army (EPL) for control of drug trafficking routes in Norte de Santander.

Two dead in nightclub shooting, Antioquia

Two people have been killed and four others wounded in a nightclub shooting in Taraza, Antioquia. Armed men opened fire on customers at the bar on Tuesday evening. Local police chief, Colonel Carlos Sierra, said criminal groups such as Los Caparrapos or the Clan del Golfo were likely behind the attack.

Rights leader shot dead in Rosas, Cauca

A 35-year-old social leader has been killed in an armed attack in Cauca, south-western Colombia. Belisario Ordonez is a well-known rights leader part of a victims' panel in the town of Rosas. According to the police, armed criminals targeted him while he and his son were leaving their home in Los Guaduales area. Ordonez's death comes on the same day that another social leader was gunned down in Meta.

Campesino leader killed near Mapiripan, Meta

A campesino leader has been killed when heavily armed men stormed her residence in Meta, central Colombia. Maria Magdalena Cruz Rojas was killed in front of her son and husband near the town of Mapiripan. Cruz Rojas was an advocate of the government's crop substitution programme, which has been introduced under the current peace process with the FARC. Since early-2017, more than 200 social leaders have been killed in Colombia.

Senior ELN member killed in Tibu, Norte de Santander

A senior member of the National Liberation Army (ELN) has been killed during a military operation in Tibu, Norte de Santander. According to Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas, alias 'Breimar' was killed in La Gabarra in the rural area of the restive Catatumbo region. Breimar was the leader of ELN's Luis Enrique Leon front, which is known to operate across the border into Venezuela. Breimar's detention comes after ELN's alias 'Fidel' was killed during a joint operation in Bolivar.

Authorities investigate public worker abduction in Arauca

Colombia's anti-kidnapping military unit is investigating the suspected abduction of a government employee in the rural area of Arauca, located near the Venezuela border. Jose Ataya Rodriguez is the manager of a local public services company. Preliminary investigations revealed that Rodriguez was kidnapped in the bordering town of Barracones and presumedly taken to Venezuela. Security tensions remain high along the porous Venezuelan border, where criminal and militant groups often engage in cross-border operations.

Thousands affected due to militant clashes in Norte de Santander

More than 20,000 people have been affected by ongoing clashes between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the People's Liberation Army (EPL) in the restive Catatumbo region, Norte de Santander. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), residents from more than 35 localities in San Calixto, El Carmen, Hacari, Sardinata, El Tarra and Convencion are facing restricted access to food and water or were forced to evacuate.

Community leader found dead in Caceres, Antioquia

A community leader has been killed in a fresh attack against social leaders in Antioquia, northern Colombia. Francisco Zabala was reported dead on Monday in the town of Caceres. Zabala was a local rural community leader in the Bajo Cauca region, where the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Clan del Golfo often engage in clashes to control territory. His death comes hours after the body of another social leader was found in Ituango.

Thousands affected after attack on power station in Tumaco, Narino

More than 58,000 people were affected after an armed attack on a power station in Tumaco, south-western Colombia's Narino department. The incident happened on Monday evening in the rural area of La Espriella. Preliminary investigations suggest that alias 'Guacho' - the leader of a dissident front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) - is potentially behind the attack. Since the FARC demobilisation, militant groups have expanded their operations across Narino department.

FARC calls ELN to cease killing of former guerrillas in Cauca

The Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) party has requested a meeting with the National Liberation Army (ELN) to discuss the increasing threat to demobilised FARC guerrillas in Colombia. The new-born political party is concerned over the systematic targeting of its members, especially in the western Cauca region. ELN militants have been accused of launching a violent campaign to secure coca-rich territory previously occupied by the FARC.

Hundreds displaced due to armed clashes in Narino

Hundreds of people have been displaced due to ongoing clashes between security forces and an undisclosed armed group in Narino department, western Colombia. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the most affected area is the town of Roberto Payan. The region has been the main battleground between dissident FARC militants and members of the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Community leader found dead in Ituango, Antioquia

A community leader has been found dead in the rural area of Ituango, Antioquia. Jose Herrera was one of the founders of a local campesino association and used to work in the town of Valdivia. Herrera's body was found in the Filadelfia area on Thursday. In recent months, social and community leaders have been systematically targeted by local criminal and militant groups.

Soldier killed in armed clashes in Acandi, Choco

A soldier has been killed during clashes with Clan del Golfo militants in Choco, north-western Colombia. Security sources confirmed that Andres Cortes was shot dead when a confrontation broke out during a military operation in Acandi. The Clan del Golfo is Colombia's biggest criminal entity. It is often engaged in violent territorial disputes with rival militant groups in northern Colombia.

ELN militants kill soldier in Morales, Bolivar

A 24-year-old soldier has been killed during violent clashes between the military and members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Bolivar, northern Colombia. Guillermo Nunez Cruz was attacked while patrolling the rural area of Morales. Most recently, the government and the ELN agreed to resume peace talks after a wave of militant attacks hit northern Colombia. 

Ombudsman's office concerned over violence in northern Colombia

The Ombudsman's Office of Colombia has raised concerns over the wave of assassination and mass displacements reported in the first months of the year in northern Colombia. The main concerns highlighted relate to areas in southern Cordoba, northern Antioquia and Bajo Cauca. Incidents include high levels of homicide in Taraza and the killing of community leaders in San Jose de Ure. More than 2,000 people remain displaced due to ongoing territorial disputes involving criminal and militant groups.

Hundreds displaced due to armed clashes in Norte de Santander

More than 1,300 people have been displaced due to ongoing clashes between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the People's Liberation Army (EPL) in Norte de Santander. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), ongoing clashes mainly affected residents in the towns of San Calixto and Hacari. The EPL, also referred as the 'Los Pelusos', has significantly expanded its presence across the Catatumbo area after the demobilisation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

UN highlights threat to rights activists in former FARC territory

The UN Human Rights Commissioner (UNHRC) has highlighted that human rights activists continue to be attacked nationwide despite the recently brokered peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). According to the UNHRC, most incidents are attributed to contract killers. It is believed that more than 80 activists were killed in 2017 across disputed areas vacated by FARC militants.

Estimate of FARC dissidents quadrupled

General Alberto Jose Mejia said on Tuesday that around 1,200 former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group did not disarm under a peace deal, which quadruples the estimate he made in February 2017.  Most members of the group handed over their weapons at the start of last year, and are now a non-violent, political party, following five decades of dispute with the government.  FARC dissidents have joined various criminal gangs and the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels, and the different groups continue to fight each other over lucrative drug trafficking and mining areas.  Over two hundred FARC dissidents have been captured or killed, or have surrendered since an offensive against them began in the middle of last year. 

Nine FARC dissidents killed in Guaviare

A joint air and ground operation of government forces on Monday left nine FARC dissidents dead in the Calamar region in the Guaviare department.  The Defence Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said that police were in the process of identifying two of the deceased, who were thought to be significant leaders of the Grupo Armado Organizado group, known by the aliases of  "Mordisco" and "Gentil Duarte", and who were involved with extortion and the protection of drug routes.  

Armed attack in Antioquia state kills two and injures five

On 17 March seven gunmen opened fire on a community group in Santa Rosita de Caucasia in Antioquia state, killing two and injuring five, three of them minors.  The Antioquia police said that preliminary investigations indicated that the incident could be part of a internal dispute between factions of the Clan de Golfo criminal gang. Local authorities requested assistance from the national police and intelligence services to combat the recent wave of violence.  

Huge drugs haul found on Tierra Bomba island

On Sunday 18 March, the National Guard discovered almost 700 kilos of cocaine at a collection centre on the island of Tierra Bomba, Cartagena.  According to official sources, the drugs belonged to the criminal organisation "Clan de Golfo", and was intended for distribution in Europe where it would have a street value of around $42 million.  

Three injured in grenade attack in Quirigua

On Sunday 18 March, three men were injured when a grenade was thrown at them as they sat in a park to the west of Bogota.  The suspect was arrested and police say that he was under the influence of alcohol.  The three were taken to a hospital for treatment to their injuries, and police siad that the man would be charged with attempted murder. 

Left-wing coalition suffers major blow in congressional vote

Millions of Colombians headed to the polls to cast their ballots in the country's historical congressional vote. The right-wing Democratic Centre (CD) was established as the biggest force in Congress, while both parties within President Juan Manuel Santos' left-wing coalition - the Liberal Party and the Party of National Unity - suffered a major blow. Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, the Liberal Party was the winner as the CD secured a close second place. Despite not acquiring enough to get additional seats, the Common Alternative Revolutionary Party (FARC) is guaranteed five seats in both houses of Congress - the FARC garnered 0,3 percent of the votes in Senate and 0,2 percent in the House.

Government to resume talks with the ELN

On Monday, President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the government is set to resume peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN). President Santos said in a televised speech that he is sending his negotiations team back to Ecuador. Peace talks with the ELN remain suspended since the latest ceasefire expired, when a number of attacks attributed to the group were reported, mostly in northern Colombia.

WFP director warns about migrant crisis along the Venezuelan border

The director of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, has said that Colombia urgently needs humanitarian assistance due to the high-influx of Venezuelan migrants in recent months. Beasley said during a visit to Cucuta that the current migrant situation in the region "could turn into an absolute disaster of unprecedented proportions for the Western Hemisphere." Venezuela has repeatedly refused international help to tackle widespread food and medicine shortages in the country, which are mainly attributed to hampering levels of inflation.

Cyber-attacks target Registry's web page ahead of congressional vote

Defense Minister Jorge Villegas has said that the web page of Colombia's National Civil Registry - which is in charge of the upcoming congressional elections - was targeted in a series of cyber-attacks. Villegas confirmed that in the past week, more than 28,000 cases were registered. However, four of them posed significant threats, including one believed to have come from Venezuela. The government has already raised concerns over potential fraud involving votes from a number of consulates across Venezuela.

Congressional elections to be held on 11 March

Millions of Colombians are set to cast their votes ahead of Sunday's congressional elections. This is the first vote in which the rebranded Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) will participate. Under the peace deal, the FARC has five seats guaranteed in each chamber of Congress. Additionally, 102 senators and 166 house members are set to be elected. Enhanced security measures were announced prior to and during the vote.

Land and maritime borders shut down ahead of legislative elections

Land and maritime borders nationwide will be temporarily shut down ahead of the legislative elections on Sunday. Migracion Colombia revealed that the measures will be enforced from Monday afternoon until Sunday. The government denied allegations that the move comes to curb immigration along the Venezuelan border and said that these measures are standard procedure before and during an election. 

FARC leader quits presidential race due to health conditions

The leader of the newly-formed Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC), Rodrigo Londono, is reportedly quitting his presidential bid ahead of the upcoming elections later in the year. Londono was set to undergo serious heart surgery as his health condition had worsened. If confirmed, the FARC has to choose a new presidential candidate before this Friday, the electoral registration deadline.

Air strike kills 10 ELN militants in Antioquia

At least 10 militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN) have been killed in an airstrike in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. According to the ministry of defence, the operation took place on Monday near the towns of Caceres and Anori. The objective was to target ELN's Dario de Jesus Ramirez Castro front, which was known to operate in the Bajo Cauca region and Cordoba. Military operations against the ELN have intensified since peace talks collapsed in early-January.

Weather warning issued over rainy season in Huila

Emergency services in the central department of Huila have announced that the rainy season in the region is set to last until mid-June. Regional authorities have already activated contingency plans across 37 municipalities. Travellers are advised to check for weather conditions through local media and official sources. Risks are significantly increased along river banks and mountainous areas. This year's rainy season is expected to be more intense than in 2017.

Senior ELN member detained in Fortul, Arauca

A senior member of the National Liberation Army (ELN) has been detained in a joint-operation in Arauca, northern Colombia. Police revealed that alias 'Tarco' was detained in the rural area of Fortul, where a number of incidents were recently reported. Dozens of ELN militants have already been detained since the start of the year. Peace talks with the group collapsed in January after the ELN resumed its armed campaign in northern Colombia.

Small blast leaves several injured during political rally in Antioquia

Several people have been reportedly injured after a small explosive device went off during a political rally in Antioquia, northern Colombia. The incident happened on Saturday when thousands were gathered to support two conservative candidates in Segovia. It remains unclear what the circumstances behind the incident were. Hernan Andrade, the head of the Conservative Party, openly condemned the attack. The incident came just days after another politician was supposedly targeted during a political rally in Cucuta, Norte de Santander.

Police officers killed in armed ambush in Cauca

Two police officers were killed after armed assailants ambushed a police patrol unit in Cauca, western Colombia. The incident happened on Saturday when police officers were attacked along the Caldono-Siberia road. Preliminary reports suggest that explosives and high-calibre weapons were used in the attack. Police are investigating the potential involvement of the National Liberation Army (ELN), which is known for operating in the region.

Five gold miners found dead near Amalfi, Antioquia

Five alleged gold miners have been found dead inside an incinerated vehicle in Antioquia, northern Colombia. According to local media, the victims were recovered near the town of Amalfi on Thursday. It is still unclear what the circumstances behind the accident are. Illegal gold mining is common in Antioquia, where rival groups and paramilitary entities often clash to secure territory.

Police officer killed near Turbo, Antioquia

A police officer has been killed and three others injured when armed assailants targeted a police vehicle in Antioquia, northern Colombia. The incident happened in the early hours of Wednesday in the rural area of Turbo. Police are investigating if members of the Clan del Golfo are behind the attack, which came as the authorities intensified operations against the group.

Soldier killed in attack to military base in Norte de Santander

A soldier has been killed and four others injured when a military base was targeted in Norte de Santander. Local media reported that on Wednesday, unknown militants targeted soldiers stationed in Convencion. The attack came a day after five soldiers were killed when targeted in a bomb attack orchestrated by the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Five soldiers killed as bomb hit convoy in Norte de Santander

Five soldiers have been killed and nine others injured when a military convoy was targeted with explosives near Cucuta, Norte de Santander. The incident happened in the early hours of Tuesday along the road between Cucuta and Tibu. Preliminary reports suggest that the four-vehicle convoy was hit by a remotely-activated explosive device. It is still unclear which group is behind the attack, but guerrilla and paramilitary groups are known to operate in the region.

ELN announces unilateral ceasefire ahead of legislative vote

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has announced a unilateral ceasefire ahead of the Colombian legislative elections. In a statement released on Monday, the ELN said that: “As a gesture of respect for Colombians who are voting, the National Liberation Army will halt offensive military operations between 9 and 13 March.” The legislative vote is scheduled for 11 March. The ELN continues to seek to resume peace talks with the government. Talks have collapsed after the group launched a number of attacks since the end of ceasefire back in January.

Series of attacks reported in Norte de Santander

Three people have been killed in a suspected militant attack in Norte de Santander. The incident happened on Sunday when presumed members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) launched an attack in Tibu. The incident came just hours after criminals targeted a police station in the same area. Reports also revealed that a military helicopter was targeted with explosives while delivering aid in Teorama. Both areas are located in the restive Catatumbo region, where militant and paramilitary groups widely operate.

OAS raises concerns over armed clashes in Bajo Cauca

The Organisation of American States (OAS) has raised concerns over the increasing number of civilians affected in violent clashes involving armed groups in northern Colombia. The OAS's Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia (MAPP) revealed that predominantly indigenous and afro-Colombian population are being forcefully displaced from the rural areas of Antioquia and Cordoba. The National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Clan del Golfo often engage in clashes to control areas in the Bajo Cauca region.

Night-time curfew introduced over unrest in southern Bogota

Local authorities launched a night-time curfew in some neighbourhoods in southern Bogota to curb a recent wave of unrest. The curfew was introduced on Thursday and is set to last until Monday across the neighbourhoods of Usme and Ciudad Bolivar. Under the rules, minors are forbidden from walking unaccompanied in those neighbourhoods between 21:00 and 04:00. Stores started to be attacked last week after the Attorney General's Office said that a number of shops used to launder money to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Social leader shot dead in El Tarra, Norte de Santander

A 36-year-old social leader has been found dead in El Tarra, Norte de Santander. According to the police, Elkin Fabian Toro's body was discovered with six gunshot wounds. El Espectador revealed that Fabian Toro used to work at a local media station and left his job at the local community board last year. El Tarra is located in the Catatumbo region, where paramilitary and drug-trafficking groups widely operate.

Hundreds trapped due to ongoing ELN operations in Bagado, Choco

Nearly 1,000 people had their movements restricted due to ongoing operations of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Choco, north-western Colombia. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), threats and actions of the ELN in the rural area of Bagado has been affecting local indigenous communities since last week. Thousands of people have already been displaced or trapped in recent months due to violent armed clashes in Choco.

Senior ELN member detained over Barranquilla bombing

A senior member of the National Liberation Army (ELN) has been detained for links to the Barranquilla bombing where seven police officers were killed in late-January. President Juan Manuel Santos has confirmed that Rafael Antonio Botero Restrepo, alias 'Tista', is also accused of recruiting minors to join ELN fronts in northern Colombia. Earlier in the week, the government announced a fresh crackdown on ELN's core leadership over recent operations nationwide.

Weather alert issued over large waves in northern Colombia

A red weather warning has been issued for northern Colombia due to strong winds and large waves expected for the next 72 hours. The alert includes the whole Caribbean region and the departments of Atlantico and Bolivar. Colombia's Institute of Hydrology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) recommended travellers to avoid nautical activities and remain vigilant along coastal areas as waves of up to four metres are expected across the whole region.

President Santos highlights challenges to resume ELN talks

On Tuesday, President Juan Manuel Santos highlighted challenges to resume peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN). President Santos said that the ELN has not been coherent with its intentions regarding the dialogue and that talks would be very difficult to resume. Peace talks have been suspended since late-January after the ELN launched a fresh insurgency campaign in northern Colombia.

ELN launches fresh attacks amid armed strike in northern Colombia

A police officer has been killed and three bystanders injured when militants opened fire at a restaurant in Arauca, northern Colombia. Reports revealed that Jorge Saenz was killed when members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) raided the building on Tuesday morning. In Antioquia, the group has been accused of bombing a railway linked to Colombia's largest coal mine. Rights organisations further condemned the death of three activists and two members of the FARC political party in less than 24 hours. The attacks came amid the so-called armed strike, which was called by the ELN to push for peace talks.

Ecopetrol suspends operations due to unrest in Meta

The state-owned oil company, Ecopetrol, has announced on Sunday the suspension of its operations in central Colombia due to an ongoing wave of unrest in Meta department. The announcement came after hooded assailants stormed Ecopetrol facilities in the region and threatened workers. Tensions between the company and the local community remain high due to Ecopetrol's hiring of outsiders.

Colombian judges issue arrest orders to ELN leadership

Colombian judges have issued an arrest order to 27 National Liberation Army (ELN) leaders in a fresh government crackdown against the country's largest guerrilla group. Among them are alias 'Gabino' and the group's chief negotiator, Isael Ramirez, alias 'Pablo Beltran'. Meanwhile, in a press conference, the head of the Colombian Armed Forces, Alberto Mejia, has revealed that the core leadership of the ELN is currently stationed in Venezuela.

Soldier killed during armed standoff with the ELN in Valdivia, Antioquia

A 29-year-old soldier has been shot dead during armed clashes with suspected members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Local authorities told El Pais that Jhon Jairo Delgado was killed when soldiers attempted to curb a fresh bomb attack on a bridge in Valdivia. The ELN has intensified its operations in recent days during its so-called armed strike. A number of bomb attacks were already reported in areas controlled by the ELN, especially in northern Colombia.

Toll booths targeted in fresh ELN bomb attacks in Cesar

A wave of bomb attacks has been reported in northern Colombia as the National Liberation Army (ELN) launched its so-called armed strike. After two separate bomb attacks targeted a bridge and a road in Cesar department, two toll booths were targeted with explosives in Aguachica and Gamarra. Meanwhile, in the neighbouring department of Norte de Santander, two presumed militants were killed when they tried to plant a bomb at the El Palermo bridge. The ELN announced that the armed strike is set to last until Tuesday in an attempt to pressure the government to resume peace talks.

ELN launches bomb attack at bridge in Cesar

Traffic has been heavily restricted after a bomb attack took place at a bridge in Cesar, northern Colombia. According to the military, presumed members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) planted an explosive at the Simana bridge between Pelaya and Aguachica. Meanwhile, the ELN has also being accused of another bomb attack in the nearby area of Curumani. No casualties have been so far reported. Over the weekend, the ELN was engaged in a so-called armed strike, which was enforced across areas controlled by the guerrilla group.

ELN suspected of killing FARC member in Montecristo, Bolivar

The Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) has accused the National Liberation Army (ELN) of the killing of one of its members in Bolivar, northern Colombia. In a statement released on Thursday, the former guerrilla group said that Kevin Lugo Jaramillo was shot dead in the rural area of Montecristo. The FARC called for guarantees as since the peace deal was signed back in 2016, around 50 FARC members were killed.

Police officers released after being held in Tumaco, Narino

Colombia's defence ministry has reported that the 14 police officers held hostage since Wednesday were released. The officers were engaged in operations to eradicate illicit crops across the coca-rich region of Tumaco, Narino department, when they were held by armed campesinos. Tumaco houses one of the main Colombian ports along the Pacific. It is believed that thousands of tonnes of cocaine leave the Colombian shores through the remote and restive town.

FARC to suspend electoral campaign due to rising tensions

Colombian media has reported that the Common Alternative Revolutionary Party (FARC) is set to temporarily suspend its electoral campaign due to recent incidents involving the FARC leadership. The FARC is set to announce the move later on Friday due to a recent wave of unrest reported during rallies of party's leader Rodrigo Timochenko. Tensions involving the new-born party have already generated concerns after a number of FARC members were attacked during the campaign.

Military to be deployed along Venezuelan border over migrant influx

On Thursday, President Juan Manuel Santos announced that thousands of additional soldiers will be deployed to curb the high influx of migrants from Venezuela. In a visit to the bordering  town of Cucuta, President Santos said: “Colombia has never lived a situation like the one we are encountering today.” Venezuela is currently facing a deep political and economic crisis. Thousands cross the Colombian border daily. It is estimated that in less than six months, more than 300,000 migrants arrived in the country.

Power outages due to pylon explosion in Guaviare

More than 20,000 people woke up without power in their houses after militants blew up a pylon in Guaviare, central Colombia. On Saturday overnight, power outages heavily affected areas around the department's capital, San Jose del Guaviare, and some cities in the neighbouring Meta department. The military is investigating if the incident is linked to a dissident front of the FARC, which left a poster at the scene. Power has since been restored. FARC militants who rejected the peace agreement continue to be active especially in Guaviare and Meta departments.

Authorities warn for express-kidnaps in northern Cauca

Regional authorities have raised concerns over a recent wave of express-kidnaps - when the victim is held for a short period - recorded in Cauca, south-western Colombia. Three businessmen were targeted last month in the northern region of the department. Police commander William Salamanca told El Pais that criminals carry out abductions to extort business owners and their families. He said that dissident members of the FARC are believed to be behind the abductions.

State of emergency declared over tonnes of garbage in Bogota

Bogota's Mayor Enrique Penalosa has declared a state of emergency as tonnes of waste are being dumped on the streets across the capital due to the ongoing garbage collectors strike. Workers are engaged in strike action due to planned job cuts in the public-owned company Aguas de Bogota. Penalosa claims that the state of emergency comes to avoid health hazards as he seeks to hire additional workers and collection services to relieve the piling up of rubbish.

Social leader found dead in Tibu, Norte de Santander

A social leader has been found dead in the rural area of Tibu, Norte de Santander. Sandra Yaneth Luna was the local leader of the Totumito Carboneras community. El Espectator reported that she has been reported missing for nearly five months after she was kidnapped from her home. It is still unclear which group is behind the incident. Tibu is located in the restive Catatumbo region, where militant and paramilitary entities widely operate.

ELN announces shutdown to pressure peace talks restart

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has informed that a so-called economic shutdown will take effect later in the week in an attempt to pressure the government to resume peace talks. Commercial and transport activity is set to be suspended between Saturday and Tuesday across the guerilla-controlled territory. The move was announced by ELN's commander in western Choco province, alias 'Uriel'. The ELN is mostly present in the western Colombian coast and around the northern departments of Arauca and Norte de Santander.

EPL engages in clashes with the army in Norte de Santander

Dozens of families have been displaced due to ongoing armed clashes in Norte de Santander. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), residents across El Tarra were forced to leave their homes in both urban and rural areas of the city due to a violent confrontation between the Colombian Army and the People's Liberation Army (EPL). OCHA reported that threats to community leaders and women's social groups are recurrent in El Tarra.

Hundreds at displacement risk due to military operations in Choco

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported that more than 560 people still have their movements restricted due to ongoing military operations in the coastal area of Choco, south-western Colombia. Preliminary updates revealed that clashes with the National Liberation Army (ELN) may incur the further displacement of more than 1,500 people in the area of Litoral de San Juan. In late-January, the Colombian Air Force bombed ELN positions in the area.

ELN targets oil pipeline in Saravena, Arauca

On Monday, Colombia's military reported that the National Liberation Army (ELN) has launched a fresh bomb attack targeting oil pipelines in northern Colombia. According to the state-owned oil company Ecopetrol, a significant stretch of the Cano Limon-Convenas pipeline was damaged in the rural area of Saravena, Arauca. This is the latest attack targeting the 485-mile pipeline attributed to the ELN since the ceasefire deal expired in early-January.

Protests break out as FARC leader visits hometown in Quindio

Violent protests erupted as hundreds of people gathered on Saturday to receive the FARC presidential candidate, Rodrigo Londono, at his hometown in Quindio department. Tensions erupted on the streets of La Tebaida as a group of protesters threw stones and vandalised his armoured SUV. Londono is running as a candidate for the new-born Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC), which is granted 10 seats in Congress as part of the peace agreement signed in 2016.

Venezuela's opposition seeks to meet President Santos in Cucuta

Venezuela's side-lined parliament, the National Assembly (AN), has requested to meet with President Juan Manuel Santos as he heads to the border town of Cucuta on Thursday. A member of the opposition-controlled body submitted the request to the Colombian Embassy in Caracas. President Santos is set to visit Cucuta to address the mass migration issue along the Venezuelan border.

Two-year-old child dies in grenade attack in Ituango, Antioquia

A two-year-old child has been killed in a grenade attack in the urban area of Ituango, northern Antioquia. Local media reported that the victim was hit by the blast on Sunday and rushed to a hospital, where she succumbed to her wounds. It is unclear what group is behind the attack. Officials revealed that ongoing clashes erupted in Ituango last week between a dissident front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and members of the Clan del Golfo.

Government opens migrant shelter on Venezuelan border

A Red Cross-run shelter has been opened on the porous border with Venezuela due to the daily influx of thousands of migrants. The shelter was opened on Saturday in the north-eastern city of Cucuta. It seeks to provide assistance to pregnant women, children and the elderly who arrive in the country legally. It is estimated that more than 35,000 Venezuelans arrive in Colombia each day, but the number is expected to significantly increase due to Venezuela's deep economic crisis.

Armed clashes affect hundreds in Cumbal, Narino

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on Saturday that hundreds of indigenous families remain isolated due to ongoing armed clashes in southern Colombia's Narino department. According to a report, around 570 people from several indigenous communities in Cumbal have had their movements restricted since late-January, when violence broke out between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and a dissident front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Strong winds trigger weather warning to Caribbean coast

A weather warning has been issued for the Colombian Caribbean region due to strong winds and large waves. The alert is expected to last until Tuesday and mainly includes coastal areas in the departments of Atlantico, Magdalena and Bolivar. It is widely advised to remain vigilant and avoid getting into the sea or engaging in the practice of water activities.

Authorities warn of wildfire risks across Andean region

Colombian authorities have issued a warning for the risk of wildfires in central and northern Colombia. The red alert includes some areas across departments in the Andean region such as Antioquia, Boyaca, Cundinamarca, Norte de Santander and Santander. Generally, wildfire risks nationwide are expected to last until March mainly due to high-temperatures and dry weather conditions.

DEA requests extradition of four Medellin drug lords

The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has requested the extradition of four jailed drug lords who are believed to control operations from prison. All of them are senior members of the infamous criminal syndicate Oficina de Envigado. The Oficina and the paramilitary Clan del Golfo are currently engaged in violent territorial disputes across Medellin. Last week, four bodies were recovered wrapped in bedsheets in the western area of the city.

Hundreds displaced due to armed clashes in Caceres, Antioquia

Nearly 700 people have been displaced due to ongoing clashes between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Clan del Golfo group in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the campesinos and indigenous population across 10 communities around Caceres are being widely affected. Additionally, around 500 people were also displaced in San Jose de Ure, in the neighbouring department of Cordoba. The ELN and the Clan del Golfo often engage in clashes to control areas in the Bajo Cauca region.

Three former FARC members killed in La Florida, Narino

Members of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) have condemned the assassination of three former guerrillas in the restive department of Narino, south-western Colombia. In a communique, the political party accused the National Liberation Army (ELN) of being behind the attack, which occurred in the rural area of La Florida, near the Ecuadorian border. According to the new-born political party, nearly 40 of its former combatants were killed nationwide since the peace deal with the government was signed.

UN workers robbed at gunpoint in El Paujil, Caqueta

Six Colombian nationals working for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have been robbed in Caqueta, southern Colombia. Local media reported that five armed criminals approached the UN staffers while they were monitoring a crop substitution programme in El Paujil. Their vehicles were robbed along with their satnav and mobile phones. No one was injured. Caqueta and the neighbouring department of Putumayo together host 24 percent of the country's coca plantations. Criminal groups dedicated to drug-trafficking often use intimidation against social leaders and workers linked to coca substitution initiatives.

Authorities warn of the risk of wildfires in Santander

Colombia's Institute of Hydrology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) has issued a warning for the potential risk of wildfires in Santander, northern Colombia. Around 60 villages are on the highest alert while 10 others are on a lower orange warning. The most concerns are in the department's capital, Bucaramanga, where this year already recorded more than 20 wildfires. Wildfire risks are expected to be extended until March mainly due to high-temperatures and dry weather conditions.

Criminals raid aircraft transporting cash in Aguachica, Cesar

A light-aircraft and a sum equivalent to $610k were stolen at an airfield in Cesar, north-western Colombia. According to military sources, four unknown criminals approached the aircraft just as it landed at a small airport in Aguachica. El Espectador revealed that both the plane and the money were later recovered by the army in a nearby community. Colombian media revealed that the Piper PA-3A aircraft was contracted by a security company to transport a large sum of Colombian pesos from the neighbouring department of Norte de Santander.

Four bodies recovered across western Medellin, Antioquia

Four bodies have been recovered in several locations across Medellin, north-western Colombia. Local authorities revealed that the victims were all found wrapped in bedsheets in areas near the Robledo neighbourhood, western Medellin. Investigations have been launched to identify the victims and assess if the incident is linked to an ongoing dispute involving rival criminal factions.

Colombian general accuses ELN of recruiting Venezuelan migrants

The head of the Colombian Armed Forces, General Alberto Jose Mejia, said on Wednesday morning that members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) are recruiting Venezuelan nationals. He said that the ELN is illegally introducing Venezuelans to increase its fronts and to engage in criminal activity against the government and the general public. The ELN is accused of engaging in cross-border operations along the porous Venezuelan border, where criminal groups often engage in violent disputes to control smuggling and drug-trafficking routes.

Air Force bombs ELN strongholds near Buenaventura

Colombia's armed forces announced on Tuesday that a joint operation to target members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) has been launched in Choco department, north-western Colombia. Members of the police followed air raids carried out by the Colombian Air Force in the town of Litoral del San Juan, near Buenaventura. No casualties were so far reported, but several indigenous communities were affected. The military offensive has been launched to capture leaders of an ELN front in southern Choco, which were dedicated to extortion and the drug trade. The raid comes a day after President Juan Manuel Santos suspended peace talks due to ELN attacks in northern Colombia.

Government suspends talks with the ELN over recent bombings

President Juan Manuel Santos has ordered the suspension of peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) due to a wave of attacks perpetrated since the ceasefire expiration. Tensions between the government and the ELN remain high since early-January when the left-wing rebel group opted to resume its insurgency campaign. Over the weekend, the ELN claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing of a police station in the northern city of Barranquilla.

Democratic Centre to dispute FARC's presidential bid at the ICC

A member of the Colombian House of Representatives announced on Saturday their intention to dispute the presidential bid of the FARC's leader, Rodrigo Londono within the International Criminal Court (ICC). Democratic Centre's - Colombia's right-wing party of former President Alvaro Uribe - Edward Rodriguez has said that Londono's presidential bid violates ICC's Rome Statute, which dictates investigations on four core crimes. Rodriguez is set to launch his own bid for a seat in Senate ahead of the legislative elections scheduled for mid-March. On Saturday, Londono officially launched his presidential bid as a candidate for the rebranded Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) party.

Social leader shot dead in Buenaventura, Cauca Valley

A social leader has been shot dead when gunmen stormed his residence in the restive town of Buenaventura, Cauca Valley. Temistocles Machado was gunned down on Saturday in Isla de la Paz neighbourhood. Machado was one of the most influent social leaders in the region and had reportedly faced death threats in recent years due to his work as a land rights advocate. Buenaventura is an isolated port city in the Cauca Valley, where criminal and paramilitary groups widely operate.

Businessman kidnapped in Santander de Quilichao, Cauca

A 50-year-old businessman has been kidnapped in the rural area of Santander de Quilichao, Cauca department. Local authorities revealed that Oscar Escobar Ramirez was abducted on Friday afternoon when four armed men forced him into a pick-up truck just as he arrived at his home in San Rafael area. Ramirez is the owner of a local business in Cali. Security measures have been reinforced across Cauca after several kidnapping cases were recently reported in the department.

ELN grenade attack kills seven police officers in Barranquilla

At least seven police officers have been killed and more than 40 others injured in a grenade attack on a police station in southern Barranquilla, northern Colombia. The incident happened on Saturday morning when assailants on a motorcycle threw an explosive device at police officers in San Jose neighbourhood. The National Liberation Army (ELN) claimed responsibility for the attack, which was widely condemned by President Juan Manuel Santos. President Santos also announced the deployment of more than 1,500 addition officers to support local police. The incident came one day after a similar attack took place in Soledad. ELN fronts have significantly intensified their attacks since the ceasefire expired earlier in the month.

Police officers killed in bomb attack in Santa Rosa, Bolivar

Two police officers have been killed in a fresh bomb attack against a police station in Bolivar, northern Colombia. The attack happened on Sunday morning when criminals targeted police officers in Santa Rosa. It remains unclear which group is behind the attack, but investigations are being carried out to assess any involvement of the National Liberation Army (ELN). This is the third bomb attack against police stations reported in northern Colombia in less than 24 hours.

Four ELN militants killed in joint operation in Norte de Santander

Four members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) have been killed during a joint military operation in Norte de Santander. The operation took place in the rural area of Chitaga under the so-called 'Operation Esparta', which seeks to capture and destroy ELN strongholds across the department. According to local media, a financial leader of an ELN front is among the casualties. The operation comes a day after six other militants were also killed in military incursions in Antioquia.

Armed clashes trigger mass displacement in Narino

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on Wednesday that dozens of families have been displaced due to ongoing armed clashes between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and dissident fronts of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). According to the report, violent clashes erupted last week in the community of Magui Payan in Narino department, south-western Colombia. Amnesty International revealed this week that more than 1,000 people were displaced in less than 96 hours due to clashes in Bajo Cauca, Cordoba, Boyaca and Casanare. 

FARC condemns attack on its headquarters in Quibdo, Choco

Members of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) have condemned on Wednesday a raid on one of its headquarters in Choco department, north-western Colombia. According to the political party, criminals stormed the FARC headquarters in Quibdo. In a press conference, the group attributed the attack to ongoing threats posed by the paramilitary Clan del Golfo group and demanded immediate security from the Colombian government. The party has recently announced that 74 FARC candidates will launch their bid ahead of the upcoming elections. It is reported that more than 35 former guerrillas were already killed since the conclusion of the peace agreement.

Indigenous communities displaced due to clashes in Cumbal, Narino

Dozens of people from several indigenous communities in southern Narino have been displaced due to fierce clashes between two armed groups near the Ecuadorian border. Local authorities revealed that more than 70 people were forced to flee their homes in the rural area of Cumbal when violent shooting broke out on Monday and Tuesday. A local mayor revealed that the confrontation is potentially linked to the ongoing dispute between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and dissident fronts of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

ELN militants killed in operation in Valdivia, Antioquia

At least six National Liberation Army (ELN) militants have been killed and two others injured during a military operation in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Colombia's Army launched an operation dubbed 'Espartano 7', which aimed to capture members of an ELN front operating in Taraza. Violent shooting broke out when soldiers encountered militants in the rural area of Valdivia. The area has been known for mass displacements attributed to territorial disputes between the ELN and the Clan del Golfo group. On Monday, the ELN and the government resumed peace talks after a wave of militant attacks erupted just as the ceasefire deal expired.

Hundreds displaced due to security risk in Cordoba

Hundreds of people have been forcefully displaced after an armed group killed a social leader in Cordoba, northern Colombia. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 400 people across five indigenous communities were forced to head to urban areas due to increased security risks in the rural region of San Jose de Ure. Shooting has also been reported in the area of Campamento, which is known for the presence of the paramilitary group Clan del Golfo. Locals told authorities that social leaders are often threatened in the region.

Health authorities report avian flu outbreak in Cundinamarca

Regional health authorities have issued an alert for the outbreak of a type of viral bird disease in Cundinamarca, central Colombia. The alert warned people to avoid contact with domestic birds and poultry due to a potential risk of infection from the virus known as the Newcastle disease. Just after the announcement, the Colombian Institute of Agropecuary (ICA) launched a contingency plan to curb the spreading of the outbreak. According to ICA, the sanitary emergency was previously announced back in December and highlighted that the major risk is posed to other birds. ICA further said that the virus is not hazardous to humans - apart from mild conjunctivitis - and that the ingestion of meat and eggs are not an issue.

Three peasants killed as criminals raid village in Argelia, Cauca

Three people have been killed and several others injured when armed criminals stormed a village in southern Cauca, south-western Colombia. Reports suggest that nearly a dozen men raided the area of El Plateado in Argelia and killed three local peasants. Rights sources told El Pais that it is unclear what circumstances are behind the attack and confirmed that criminal groups widely operate in the region. 

Authorities concerned over mass displacements in northern Colombia

The Ombudsman's Office of Colombia has issued concerns after more than 1,000 people were forcibly displaced due to ongoing territorial disputes between guerilla groups and the paramilitary. It stated in a report that between 17 and 20 January, mass displacements took place in areas across Bajo Cauca, southern Cordoba and the bordering towns between Boyaca and Casanare. Violent disputes and hampering levels of criminality have been mainly attributed to the intensification of operations led by the National Liberation Army (ELN), dissident FARC fronts and paramilitary groups.

Five killed as bus plunges off cliff in Antioquia

At least five people were killed and 17 others were injured when a bus plunged off a cliff in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Preliminary reports revealed that the accident happened on Monday morning in Don Matias. It is believed that the driver lost control after colliding with a lorry. Emergency services rushed to scene as casualty figures are expected to increase.

Dissident militants target FARC politicians in Arauca

A vehicle transporting members of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) has been ambushed in Arauca, northern Colombia. Local media reported on Monday afternoon that armed militants opened fire and set their vehicle ablaze while they were travelling across El Oasis area in Arauquita. A civilian was killed after being collaterally hit. Reports revealed that FARC politicians were in the area to discuss plans to eradicate illicit crops. It remains unclear which group is potentially behind the attack, but preliminary investigations suggest links to dissident members of the former guerrilla group. Last week, two members of the FARC were also killed while campaigning in Antioquia.

Several killed in bar massacre in Yarumal, Antioquia

At least seven people have been killed when heavily armed criminals stormed a local bar in the rural area of Antioquia, north-western Colombia. The incident happened on Sunday evening in La Estrella village, located in the rural area of Yarumal. Local authorities told Colombian media that four heavily armed criminals raided the venue and indiscriminately opened fire. It remains unclear which group is behind the attack, while authorities are still investigating the potential involvement of the National Liberation Army (ELN) or the Clan del Golfo.

Security beefed up over robberies rising in Bogota

President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Sunday his plans to deploy more than 500 additional police officers to the streets of Bogota amid a wave of robberies reported in the capital. Local authorities have recorded a hampering increase of 60 percent in the number of robberies, which are mainly attributed to local street gangs. Colombia's Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez raised concerns over the increasing levels of impunity regarding the premature release of suspects and recidivist criminals. Street crime is common across major Colombian cities. Criminals may be armed and often employ the use of force.

Weather alert issued over landslides in the Andean region

A weather alert has been issued for northern Colombia's Andean region due to the increasing risks of landslides. Colombian authorities revealed that the warning includes villages, towns and roads across the departments of Antioquia, Boyaca, Caldas, Cundinamarca, Huila, Norte de Santander and Quindio. Caution is widely advisable when travelling to those areas as heavy rainfall may trigger dangerous landslides and widespread flooding.

Government negotiator to return to Quito amid ELN peace talks

Colombia's head negotiator at the peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) is set to return to Quito, Ecuador, in a renewed attempt from the government to reach a new ceasefire deal. President Juan Manuel Santos has said on Twitter that: “Gustavo Bell will travel to Quito to explore the possibility of a new ceasefire that will allow a continuation of peace negotiations with the ELN." A new round of talks was set to start early in the month after the expiration of a 101-day ceasefire agreement. However, Bell was recalled from Quito after the ELN resumed its armed campaign.

Several killed as landslide drags bus over a cliff in Narino

At least 13 people have been killed when a bus fell off a cliff in Narino, south-western Colombia. Emergency service revealed on Saturday that a massive landslide hit near Tuquerres and dragged the vehicle over a cliff. The bus was carrying 16 passengers from Tumaco to Pasto. Rescue efforts continue to be carried out to assess if more vehicles remain trapped under more than 5,000 cubic metres of rock and earth.

Social leader shot dead in Yondo, Antioquia

A social leader has been killed in an armed attack in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. According to local authorities, Victor Morato was shopping at a store in Yondo on Wednesday evening, when he was shot several times. Police officers launched an investigation to assess the circumstances behind the attack. Several social leaders were gunned down last year across Antioquia. The UN mission in the country has raised concerns over the rising number of deaths of social and community leaders amid peace negotiations with the ELN and the conclusion of the peace deal with the FARC.

Six police officers targeted in ambush in Mesetas, Meta

At least six police officers have been injured during an ambush on a police patrol unit in Meta department, central Colombia. Preliminary reports suggest that the incident happened in the rural area of Mesetas when a police truck was targeted with explosives and bullets. It is believed that members of a dissident front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are behind the attack. Dissident FARC militants who rejected the peace agreement continue to be active, to varying degrees, throughout several departments in Colombia, especially in Guaviare and Meta departments.

Two former FARC militants killed while campaigning in Antioquia

Two demobilised members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been shot dead while engaged in a political campaign in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. In a statement released on Wednesday, the former guerrilla's party - Common Alternative Revolutionary Force - said: “Wilmar Asprilla and Angel de Jesus Montoya were in the municipality conducting a community meeting and preparing a meeting to support the candidate for the house of representatives of Antioquia.” Reports revealed that the incident happened late on Tuesday evening in the rural area of Peque. FARC's leader, Rodrigo Londono, is set to run for president, while the party is guaranteed five seats in both houses of Congress. The UN Verification Mission in Colombia has highlighted concerns regarding the increasing killings targeting social leaders and former FARC militants alongside the guarantee of free political participation in the upcoming elections. 

Seven dead in military helicopter crash in Antioquia

At least seven people have been killed when a military helicopter crashed in Antioquia, northern Colombia. According to the Army, the MI-17 aircraft was travelling from Caucasia to Segovia during a routine fuel inspection of military aircraft. Ten people were on board, including two civilians. 

Armed group attacks police station in Riosucio, Choco

On Sunday, an armed group targeted a police station in Choco department, north-western Colombia. Social groups revealed that the police station of Belen de Bajira in Riosucio was targeted with grenades. No major structural damages or casualties were reported. Regional officials have ordered the deployment of additional police officers to the region. Local police believe that members of the Clan de Golfo group are behind the attack. The area is also known for the presence of the National Liberation Army (ELN), which has recently resumed its insurgency campaign after a ceasefire deal with the government expired last week.

UN warn of further displacements after end of ELN ceasefire

On Monday, aid groups and the UN have warned that thousands of Colombians are at risk of being displaced due to ongoing incursions involving paramilitary groups and the National Liberation Army (ELN). As the ceasefire between the government and the ELN expires, the head of the UNHCR in Colombia, Jozef Merkx, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that: "We are worried about new displacements along the whole Pacific Coast where we have seen a lot of new displacements in 2017." Tensions in the region remain high since the demobilisation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Paramilitary groups and the ELN continue their quest to conquer the power vacuum left by the FARC across major jungle areas. Most concerns also regard the Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities living across jungle villages in southern Colombia.

Several workers killed in bridge collapse near Bogota

At least 10 people have been killed when a bridge under construction collapsed near Bogota. Colombia's Civil Defense authority revealed that the collapse happened on Monday afternoon on a road between the capital and Villavicencio. Search and rescue efforts were launched as four people were still missing during the course of the evening. All victims were construction workers at the Chirajara bridge, a 446-metres-long structure planned to connect Bogota to Villavicencio.

ELN members kidnap oil worker in Saravena, Arauca

Presumed members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) have kidnapped an oil-worker in Arauca, northern Colombia. Rafael Riano Ravelo was taken when armed criminals raided his office on Modelo neighbourhood in Saravena. Riano Ravelo works for the company Ismocol, a construction contractor to the state-owned oil company Ecopetrol. The incident happened on Saturday morning while UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was arriving to meet President Juan Manuel Santos. Guterres is in Colombia to discuss further arrangements in the ELN peace talks, whose ceasefire deal expired last week. Since then, the group opted to resume its insurgency campaign through attacking oil pipelines and government targets.

Police officers targeted in grenade attack in Meta

Two police officers have been injured in a grenade attack in Meta department, central Colombia. The incident happened on Thursday evening when both officers were patrolling the streets near a hotel in Puerto Concordia. Local media reported that official sources confirmed that the attack was carried out by dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Regional authorities are set to meet to discuss the current security situation in Meta and Guaviare, where dissident FARC members remain widely active.

Police officers killed in armed attack in Arauca

At least two police officers have been killed when armed assailants attacked a patrol unit in the bordering city of Arauca, northern Colombia. Local media reported that the incident happened on Thursday evening in an area between the neighbourhoods of Libertadores and Miramar, close to the Venezuelan border. Reports revealed that both officers were targeted when criminals riding a motorcycle opened fire. It remains unclear which group is behind the attack, but police are investigating a potential connection to the National Liberation Army (ELN). Arauca is one of the main regions where the ELN operates. This week, as the ceasefire deal expired, the ELN resumed its insurgency campaign forcing the government to withdraw its team from the negotiation table.

UN highlights challenges to implementation of FARC peace deal

The head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, Jean Arnault, told Wednesday the UN Security Council on Wednesday that Colombia still faces a number of challenges regarding the implementation of the peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Arnault said that: “While the building blocks of stabilization are being put in place, we cannot lose sight of the challenges of reintegration. But we continue to view with concern the socioeconomic reintegration of the 14,000 former combatants." Meanwhile, the UN Security Council also raised concerns over tensions regarding the peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), which has resumed its campaign of violence following the expiration of a three-month ceasefire.

Weather alerts issued to northern and western Colombia

Colombia's Institute of Hydrology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) has issued a weather alert for potential floods caused by the rising levels of rivers in western Colombia. A Red alert was issued to towns and villages located along the Pacific coast, the Cauca Valley and northern Cauca department. A lower-scale Orange alert was declared in the Caribbean coast, Narino and Choco departments. An alert was also issued over the increased risks of landslides in villages in Antioquia and Caldas departments, and also across the Pacific, the Caribbean and Andean regions.

Soldiers engage in clashes with paramilitary group in Canalete, Cordoba

Four presumed members of the outlawed group Clan del Golfo have been shot dead after a violent armed confrontation in Cordoba department, northern Colombia. According to the Colombian Army, soldiers were carrying out an operation against two factions of the group when shooting broke out in the rural area of Canalete. Two soldiers were injured and later rushed to hospital. The incident comes days after three bodies were recovered in the rural area of Cordoba's Tierralta in a suspected dispute between the Clan del Golfo and dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

President Santos recalls negotiator as ELN resumes attacks

President Juan Manuel Santos has recalled his chief negotiator, Gustavo Bell, from the negotiations table with the National Liberation Army (ELN) after the country's largest guerrilla group resumed its insurgency campaign. Just as the three-month ceasefire between both parties expired on Wednesday, the ELN launched a bomb attack on an oil pipeline in Aguazul, central department of Casanare. ELN militants also targeted a military base in the northern department of Arauca, where two soldiers were injured. In a press conference on Wednesday, President Santos said: "We were always, I repeat, always ready to extend the ceasefire with the ELN and negotiate very quickly for a new cycle of talks. The ELN not only rejected this process but chose to restart their terrorist attacks on the very day that they were obliged to initiate the new round of negotiations".

ELN negotiations set to enter new phase as ceasefire deal expires

The ceasefire between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Colombian government expired on Tuesday. Both parties are set to meet in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, as a new phase of negotiations will be launched next Monday. President Juan Manuel Santos and the ELN leadership have already announced their intention to extend the ceasefire which brought violence to a halt across guerrilla-controlled areas. The ELN and the government have been negotiating since February and had reached last October ceasefire under the supervision of the UN and the Catholic Church. Colombia's largest guerrilla group seeks to achieve a similar deal to the one reached with the FARC, which has recently been transformed into a political party.

ELN clashes with FARC dissidents in Policarpa, Narino

Militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN) have reportedly clashed with FARC dissident members in Narino department, south-western Colombia. Reports suggest that at least four people were killed and six others were captured during an armed attack in the rural area of Policarpa. Narino has become one of the main guerilla battlegrounds since the FARC demobilised. Paramilitary and guerrilla groups often fight to control strategic drug-rich areas in the department. This week, more than 2,000 soldiers were deployed to Narino's port town of Tumaco in a massive crackdown to drug-trafficking in the region.

Three killed in presumed territorial dispute in Tierralta, Cordoba

On Monday afternoon, police officers in Cordoba department recovered three bodies in the rural area of Tierralta. Preliminary reports revealed that one of the victims was missing for several days and was a presumed member of the Clan del Golfo. Police revealed that investigations suggest that the deaths were caused during an apparent dispute with suspected dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In November, Colombian authorities warned of the increasing presence of the Clan del Golfo in Tierralta, where hundreds of indigenous families were displaced due to violent armed confrontations.

Thousands deployed in military operation in Tumaco, Narino

Thousands of soldiers have been mobilised to take part in a massive military operation in Narino department, south-western Colombia. According to the Colombian Air Force, on Monday, the joint task force 'Hercules' launched the operation 'Exodo 2018', which involves the deployment of 2,000 armed and highly trained soldiers to tackle security threats in the restive Tumaco area. Three reconnaissance aircraft will be also deployed to assist in the operation. Tumaco was traditionally known as a stronghold of the Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia (FARC). Since the FARC demobilisation criminal groups are engaged in territorial disputes in the remote region. In October, President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the reinforcement of the military presence in Tumaco over rising security concerns linked to drug-trafficking activities.

Tourists advised to avoid San Andres and Providencia due to adverse weather

Colombia's Minister of Commerce, Maria Lorena Gutierrez, has recommended that tourists and residents on the isolated archipelago of San Andres and Providencia exercise caution due to adverse weather conditions. Gutierrez suggested to tourists to temporarily avoid the archipelago. She also urged visitors that are already in the archipelago to exercise extra caution as the rough weather is currently bringing strong winds, heavy rains and large waves. The Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (Ideam) has issued an alert for the region. According to the Ideam, the weather phenomenon affecting San Andres and Providencia are not directly linked to the so-called 'US Bomb Cyclone'. Weather conditions are expected to gradually improve from Saturday. San Andres and Providencia is a Colombian territory located off the Nicaraguan coast.

Protester killed amid strike action in Uraba, Antioquia

A protester has been killed when violent demonstrations erupted in the Uraba subregion in Antioquia, northern Colombia. Hundreds of protesters clashed with security forces on the streets of Currulao, located along the 62 national highway, where several streets were blocked overnight on Thursday. The incident comes amid strike action to protest against the introduction of a toll booth in the area, which union leaders fear will hinder local businesses and the agro-industry.

Seven killed in violent clashes in Bolivar, Cauca

At least seven people have been killed in two separate armed clashes in the rural area of Bolivar, Cauca department. In Trujillo, six people were killed when groups linked to drug-trafficking engaged in violent shooting. Among the victims is a peasant who was hit by a stray bullet. In Mazamorremo, clashes involving another drug-trafficking group and presumed members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) led to the death of a wanted criminal. Preliminary reports suggest that alias 'Bin Laden', a senior ELN commander, was also killed in the dispute. Police told El Pais that Trujillo, more specifically, is known for the presence of ELN militants.

Rancher kidnapped in San Vicente del Caguan, Caqueta

A local rancher was kidnapped when four assailants raided his home in Caqueta, southern Colombia. Samuel Estupinan Sanchez was abducted while spending the night with his family in the rural area of San Vicente del Caguan. An opposition senator from the neighbouring Huila department, Ernesto Macias Tovar, said on social media that among the suspects is a dissident member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Meanwhile, police officers are still investigating a potential link to a local criminal group.

ELN confirms intentions to extend ceasefire agreement

The National Liberation Army (ELN) announced on Friday that the group will continue to abide by the ceasefire deal with the government as its deadline approaches. ELN's commander, Nicolas Rodriguez Bautista, alias 'Gabino', has said via video that the move comes as the ELN seeks to find a political agreement with the Colombian government. The ceasefire is set to expire next week on 09 January but both parts have demonstrated the intention to extend it. In late December, President Juan Manuel Santos announced a reshuffle of the negotiation team after Juan Camilo Restrepo stepped down as the government's chief negotiator. Since the start of the ELN talks, security levels have significantly improved in areas held by the guerrilla forces, which are mainly located in northern Colombia.

Government and FARC to discuss peace deal developments

President Juan Manuel Santos is set to meet with the leadership of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) to assess potential developments in the peace deal with the rebranded former guerrilla group. As part of periodical meetings between the government and the FARC, both parties are scheduled to meet on Thursday in Cartagena, northern Colombia. On Tuesday, FARC's leader, Rodrigo Londono, acknowledged the role of the security services in assisting the implementation of the peace process. Despite significant progress, a number of challenges have erupted with the FARC demobilisation, especially linked to the power vacuum left in some jungle areas and grievances regarding the special tribunals.

Scores injured in grenade attack in Caucasia, Antioquia

At least 30 people have been injured in an explosion at a nightclub in Caucasia, Antioquia. Emergency services rushed to the Bora Bora disco at Pajonal Avenue after a grenade went off late on Thursday evening. Three people were in critical conditions and dozens were taken to the hospital. Police officers confirmed that a 23-year-old man and a woman were detained as investigations assess if they are linked to the outlawed Clan del Golfo group. Last week, local authorities issued a warning about a wave of criminality across western Medellin due to ongoing disputes between the Clan del Golfo and the Oficina de Envigado gang.

Authorities record wave of criminality amid disputes in Medellin, Antioquia

Colombian authorities have recorded a wave of criminality in Medellin as tensions between rival criminal groups increase. Reports suggest that nearly 50 people were already murdered in the city in December, the deadliest month in 2017. This week, a significant increase in homicide levels have been recorded compared with the same period in 2016. Local authorities believe that the spark in violence levels may be linked to the recent detention of Carlos Mesa Vallejo, alias 'Tom', a senior member of the Oficina de Envigado gang. Tensions remain particularly high around the western neighbourhoods of Belen and San Javier, which are currently controlled by the Clan del Golfo.

President Santos announces launching of Plan Orus

On Tuesday, President Juan Manuel Santos announced details of the Plan Orus, a widespread government-backed operation to patrol abandoned areas left by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). More than 63,000 soldiers will be deployed across 67 cities and nearly 600 villages that are currently facing spiralling levels of violence. Since the FARC demobilisation, paramilitary and insurgent groups have engaged in fierce battles to control former FARC territory. Plan Orus aims to station a military unit in every single village that has been recently targeted. A recent UN report revealed that more than 100 civil rights defenders have been killed in Colombia in 2017.

Two police officers killed in La Macarena, Meta

Two police officers have been killed while undertaking an operation to shut down night-time establishments in Meta, central Colombia. The incident happened overnight on Monday in the Playa Rica-Yari area in La Macarena. Both victims were part of a police detachment dedicated to implementing the peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Gustavo Bell nominated new government negotiator to ELN talks

President Juan Manuel Santos has nominated Gustavo Bell as the new government chief negotiator of the peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN). Bell, a former Colombian vice-president during the Pastrana administration, is the Colombian ambassador in Cuba. He is replacing Juan Camilo Restrepo who is set to step down from the peace process in early January for professional and personal reasons. Currently, the ELN and the government are engaged in a ceasefire deal set to last until 9 January. President Santos and the ELN already expressed their intentions to extend the ceasefire.

ELN announces intentions to extend ceasefire

On Sunday, the National Liberation Army (ELN) announced  its' intention to extend the ongoing ceasefire agreement with the Colombian government. In a statement released on Twitter, addressed to the UN mission chief, Jean Arnault, the group said that: “We are willing to agree on a new ceasefire once we have jointly evaluated at the negotiating table the progress, confidence and results of the current one.” The current agreement is set to expire on 09 January. Last week, President Juan Manuel Santos announced a reshuffle to the government negotiations team after his team's chief negotiator, Juan Camilo Restrepo, stepped down.

EPL launches wave of attacks in Catatumbo, Norte de Santander

The People's Liberation Army (EPL) has launched a wave of attacks over the weekend across the restive Catatumbo area in Norte de Santander. A nine-year-old boy was injured when members of the EPL launched a grenade attack at a police station in El Carmen. Moments later, three civilians were slightly wounded in another similar attack in Hacari. Further reports suggest that another incident occurred in Teorama. Police officers revealed that a vehicle loaded with nearly 100 kilos of explosives was found in a residential area in Ocana. The EPL, also referred as the 'Los Pelusos', has significantly expanded its presence across the Catatumbo area after the demobilisation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Two killed in fresh armed clashes in Narino

At least two people have been killed in fresh armed clashes in Narino department, south-western Colombia. Local authorities confirmed on Sunday that a confrontation broke out between members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and presumed dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The incident happened in the indigenous community of Mayasquer in Cumbal, located at the border with Ecuador. Further investigations were launched to assess the circumstances behind the incident. In late-November, more than a dozen people were reportedly killed in Narino during clashes between FARC dissidents and the ELN.

Congress seeks to launch bill to judge criminal groups

President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Thursday that the Colombian Congress is currently redacting a bill that seeks to speed up judicial proceedings against members of criminal structures. Santos's statement came just after the leader of the Clan del Golfo, Dairo Antonio Usuga, announced a unilateral ceasefire. President Santos said that despite encouraging the move, the government will still continue its ongoing crackdown against the group. Several months ago, the Clan del Golfo announced plans to surrender and engage in a dialogue, however, this was largely unaddressed by the government. Since the demobilisation of the FARC and the ceasefire with the ELN, the Clan del Golfo has launched violent campaigns to secure drug-trafficking and illegal mining territory nationwide.

Former paramilitary leader to be extradited to the US

President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Thursday that former paramilitary boss, Daniel Rendon Herrera, alias 'Don Mario', is set to be extradited to the US. President Santos announced the move during the launching of a government programme to eradicate coca crops in Antioquia. Don Mario was a member of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) - currently referred to as Clan del Golfo - and was demobilised amid a peace deal with the group back in 2006. Don Mario was not granted amnesty as he still continued to engage in criminal activities. In late-September, the Supreme Court authorised his extradition to the US, where he is accused of drug-trafficking.

Demobilised FARC militant killed in Ituango, Antioquia

A demobilised militant of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been shot dead in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Jairo Ortiz Betancur was killed on Wednesday afternoon in Ituango. Members of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force - FARC's political party - condemned the incident and called national and municipal authorities to protect former FARC members in the region. According to the FARC, four of its demobilised members have already been killed in Ituango in the last six months.

Clan del Golfo announces unilateral ceasefire

Colombia's most infamous criminal paramilitary group, the Clan del Golfo, has announced a unilateral ceasefire on Wednesday. The group's leader, Dairo Antonio Usuga, alias 'Otoniel', announced through a press release to cease military offensives nationwide. Further, Otoniel called groups such as the National Liberation Army (ELN), FARC dissidents and other criminal entities to do the same. The Clan del Golfo is believed to be comprised of nearly 2,000 members and is one of the most violent in Colombia. Since the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) fully demobilised the group has been engaged in deadly territorial disputes.

Authorities detain Medellin's most wanted drug lord

Colombia's ministry of defence confirmed on Saturday that Carlos Mesa Vallejo, alias 'Tom', has been captured in Antioquia, northern Colombia. Tom was captured during a birthday party in an affluent neighbourhood in El Penol. Authorities revealed that the so-called 'Operation Omega' came after intense intelligence work and tip-offs from the local population. Cash, luxurious vehicles and weapons were seized during the raid. Tom is known as one of the most infamous criminals in Medellin and the leader of the Oficina de Envigado, a criminal structured created by Pablo Escobar. President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed the detention and Tom's alliances with the Clan del Golfo group, the biggest criminal entity in Colombia.

Hundreds displaced due to armed clashes in Suarez, Cauca

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that more than 473 people have been displaced when armed clashes between unknown groups broke out in Suarez, Cauca. Communities from Cabana, Agua Bonita, Union Olivare, Los Robles and La Fonda Damian were heavily affected. Last week, at least six presumed dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were killed in violent clashes in the rural area of Suarez. Although thousands of FARC members demobilised as part of the peace process, hundreds of others are still active across several departments mainly in western Colombia.

Widespread floods affect thousands in Choco and Antioquia

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has informed that more than 30,000 people have been affected when heavy rainfall caused widespread floods in Choco and Antioquia departments, north-western Colombia. Adverse weather conditions battered the region last week and triggered the overflow of a number of local rivers. In Antioquia, the most affected areas were the municipalities of Vigia del Fuerte and Murindo, while in Choco department were the villages of Carmen del Darien, Bojaya, Medio Atrato and Riosucio.

Two men kidnapped in Ocana, Norte de Santander

A 70-year-old man and his son have been kidnapped after armed criminals intercepted their vehicle in Norte de Santander. According to the ombudsman, Carlos Negret, Jesus Bohorquez and his son were attacked on a road in Ocana. It remains unclear which group is behind the abduction. Ocana is located in the restive Catatumbo region, where groups such as the People's Liberation Army (EPL) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) widely operate alongside paramilitary and other criminal entities.

Armed criminals set bus on fire in Cauca

A passenger bus has been set ablaze after armed criminals ambushed the vehicle in the Cauca department, western Colombia. The incident happened between the towns of Caloto and Corinto on Monday evening. It remains unclear what circumstances are behind the incident. No injuries were reported as the assailants ordered the passengers to step down from the vehicle before setting it on fire. Local media reported that it may be linked to extortion, while further investigations are assessing potential links to criminal or guerilla groups.

FARC political party submit list of Congressional candidates

Members of the new-born Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) have submitted their list of officials to run for Congress ahead of the country's 2018 general elections. Among the party's Senate nominees are Ivan Marquez, Carlos Antonio Lozada, Griselda Lobo, Victoria Sandino and Benkos Bioho. Further, the list is comprised of more than 20 members who will compete for further seats. As part of the peace agreement between the government and the former guerrilla group, the FARC will be granted five seats in both houses of Congress for the next two terms. All members still have to pass through the approval of the special peace tribunals, which were recently approved to judge crimes during Colombia's long-standing conflict.

Several killed as rival FARC dissidents clash in Suarez, Cauca

At least six dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been killed in fresh armed clashes in Cauca department, south-western Colombia. According to the Army, the confrontation broke out in the rural area of Suarez. It is believed that the incident involved two dissident FARC factions that are currently disputing drug-trafficking territory in Cauca. Although thousands of FARC members demobilised as part of the peace process, hundreds of others are still active across several departments mainly in western Colombia.

Government chief negotiator to step down from ELN peace talks

The government's negotiation team with the National Liberation Army (ELN) is set to face a major reshuffle after its chief negotiator, Juan Camilo Restrepo, announced plans to step down. Restrepo met with President Juan Manuel Santos to confirm that he remains as the government's head negotiator until 08 January, the last day before the current cease-fire deadline. Restrepo said in a press conference that the ELN ceasefire has the potential to be extended as significant progress has been made. He announced that he is leaving the team due to professional and personal reasons. President Santos said that a new team will be assembled and refused to acknowledge that the peace process is currently facing a crisis after three other negotiators - including Rt Gen Eduardo Herera Verbel - also handed in their resignations. 

Army rescues rancher kidnapped in Salgar, Antioquia

Colombia's Army launched a joint-operation where a 37-year-old abducted rancher was rescued in Antioquia, northern Colombia. Dozens of soldiers and police officers took part in the operation to rescue Wilmar Merino Londono, who was kidnapped last Tuesday at his farm in Salgar. Reports suggest that criminals demanded a ransom of 150m Colombian pesos ($50k) for his release. Three suspects were detained during the operation that took place in the town's rural area.

Three civil servants kidnapped near Almanguer, Cauca

Three civil servants have been reportedly kidnapped in Cauca, south-western Colombia. Reports revealed that all victims work for the local government of Almanguer. They were abducted on Thursday evening when driving along the road between Almanguer and Bolivar. The police and the Army launched a massive operation to locate the workers. The incident came days after a 10-year-old was kidnapped in the rural area of Cajibio.

Criminals kidnap 10-year-old boy in Cajibio, Cauca

A 10-year-old boy has been kidnapped along with three adults in Cauca, south-western Colombia. Local media reported that the incident happened last week on Thursday when the family was arriving at their farm in the rural area of Cajibio. Reports revealed that the adults were released moments later in a wooded area, but the whereabouts of the child and the criminals remain unknown. No ransom demands were issued and the police and the Army's anti-kidnapping unit, Gaula, are still investigating the incident.

Olympian weightlifter shot dead at bar in Palmira, Cauca Valley

A 32-year-old professional weightlifter has been shot dead in Palmira, Cauca Valley. Local media reported that Edwin Mosquera Roa was shot twice on Saturday evening at a bar in Palmeras de Marselha neighbourhood. Police are investigating if Mosquera Roa was killed after an alleged altercation with another individual. The victim was one of the most prominent athletes in Colombia and had competed in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Several miners killed in gas explosion in Corrales, Boyaca

At least six workers have been killed after an explosion at a coal mine in Boyaca, northern Colombia. The incident happened on Tuesday morning when a powerful blast struck the La Fortuna mine located in the rural area of Corrales. Preliminary reports suggest that the explosion occurred due to the accumulation of gases. Three miners are still trapped as rescue operations are limited due to hazardous gases dangerous to the emergency services. Mining accidents in Colombia are common and usually occur because of a lack of health and safety regulations.

Police capture one of the leaders of the Clan del Golfo

On 3 December, the Intelligence Branch of the Antioquia police captured Wbeimar Arbey Gutierrez, otherwise known as "Don Carlos" or "Politico", who is one of the leaders of the Clan del Golfo.  According to police, "Don Carlos" began his criminal career in 2003, and spent five years working under Jairo de Jesus Durango, alias "Guagua", until he became a trusted member of the group.  In 2014 he became the first leader of the northwestern front, and was in charge of propaganda, tasked with gaining acceptance by the civilian population and thereby hindering police actions.

Several killed in bus crash near Planeta Rica, Cordoba

At least five people have been killed and 16 others were injured when a bus crashed in Cordoba, north-western Colombia. Police confirmed that the accident happened between the villages of Pueblo Nuevo and Planeta Rica in the early hours of Sunday. The bus, operated by Expresso Brasilia, crashed during a journey between Cartagena and Medellin. Reports revealed that among the fatalities is a five-year-old girl, while five foreign nationals are among the injured. Preliminary investigations suggest that the crash happened due to a mechanical failure. This is the first deadly crash to occur during the start of the holidays season, where road crashes are very common mainly due to reckless driving and fatigue.

Red alert issued due to flood risks in Magdalena and Antioquia

Colombia's Meteorology and Environmental Studies Institute (IDEAM) has issued a red alert over potential floods in Magdalena and Antioquia departments, north-western Colombia. In Magdalena, authorities urged caution in Puerto Berrio and Puerto Nare due to rising levels of the Magdalena River and its tributaries. In Antioquia, floods may affect the El Banco area. The warning remains active until Saturday, as heavy rainfall persists in the region.

Police investigate deadly clashes between ELN and FARC in Narino

Colombian police launched an investigation to assess the circumstances behind a presumed armed confrontation between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Narino, south-western Colombia. The incident reportedly broke out on Monday afternoon when ELN militants targeted members of the FARC dissident front known as the Gente del Nuevo Orden. The attack occurred in the isolated area of Pueblo Nuevo in Magui Payan. Unconfirmed reports suggest that at least 13 people were killed and eight others remain missing. FARC dissidents are currently engaged in violent territorial disputes with the ELN and paramilitary entities since the group fully demobilised and became a political party.

Social leader shot dead in Belen de Bajira, Choco

A fresh incident of violence targeting social leaders and human rights advocates has been reported in Choco department, north-western Colombia. Mario Castano Bravo was killed on Sunday evening when heavily armed assailants stormed his residence in Belen de Bajira. Local media reported that Bravo was shot at least seven times. Castano Bravo was a social leader linked to the land rights group Conpaz and also to a local community council. He has been one of the voices behind complaints about the increasing paramilitary presence in the area, especially the paramilitary Clan del Golfo group. Further, Castano Bravo was engaged in long-standing grievances with large landowners and prominent businessmen regarding land rights.

Four killed in violent shooting in Acacias, Meta

Four people have been killed and two others injured when shooting broke out in Acacias, Meta department. El Espectador reported that the incident happened on Monday evening between the San Cristobal and Mancera neighbourhoods. Police revealed that several people were indiscriminately attacked when two armed criminals opened fire. Preliminary reports suggest that the crime may be linked to disputes between two local drug-trafficking groups.

Navy rescues kidnapped salesman in Buenaventura

The Navy's anti-kidnap unit, Gaula, has rescued a 55-year-old local salesman who was kidnapped in Buenaventura, south-western Colombia. Local media reported that the victim was abducted on Thursday in La Independencia neighbourhood. According to a statement, one kidnapper was detained while the other fled the scene. It is believed that both are members of a local criminal group dedicated to extortion and kidnapping. Buenaventura is an isolated port city in the Cauca Valley, where criminal and paramilitary groups widely operate.

Lower house approves special peace tribunals

Lawmakers of the lower house of Congress have widely approved the controversial special tribunals to try members of the military and former guerrillas accused of involvement in Colombia's long-standing conflict. After a lengthy 12-hour session on Monday, members of the House of Representatives approved the remaining 98 articles - from a total of 163 - within the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). Among the main points discussed were the political participation of FARC militants; the exclusion of sexual crimes against minors; and the participation of certain magistrates that took part in the initial peace negotiations in Havana, Cuba. The bill now heads to the Senate and the Constitutional Court before being sanctioned by the President.

Hundreds evacuated due to armed clashes in Cordoba

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on Friday that more than 190 indigenous families were forcibly displaced as violence escalated in Cordoba, northern Colombia. According to OCHA, more than 536 Embera Katio people across two indigenous communities were evacuated due to armed clashes between the Colombian Army and the outlawed Clan del Golfo group. Violence erupted around the Paramillo Natural National Park in Tierralta, especially across communities located along the Esmeralda river. Colombian authorities have warned of the increasing presence of the Clan del Golfo in the area.

Local rancher kidnapped in Altamira, Huila

A 67-year-old rancher has been reportedly kidnapped alongside his wife in Huila, south-western Colombia. Local media identified the victim as Helmo Borrero Ceballos, a prominent local rancher. He and his wife were abducted on Monday morning when armed criminals ambushed his vehicle in Altamira. The wife was later released, while police continue to investigate the rancher's whereabouts.

Clan del Golfo senior commander killed in Norte de Santander

A police special operations unit has killed a senior member of the infamous Clan de Golfo gang in Norte de Santander. Luis Orlando Pena, alias 'Inglaterra', was shot dead when police officers raided an affluent condominium in the rural area of Chinacota. Inglaterra was known to be the second in command of the organisation. He was considered the group's chief of security and one of the most wanted men in Colombia. President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed the outcome of the operation, which also captured three other criminals. The Colombian government has launched the operation 'Agamemnon 2' to specifically target Clan del Golfo's militants in western and northern Colombia.

President Santos announces crackdown against FARC dissidents

On Thursday, President Juan Manuel Santos announced a crackdown on dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In an international press conference, Santos said that the Colombian armed forces will employ a 'total offensive' against militants that refused to abide by the peace agreement and continue to engage in criminal activity. President Santos had previously allowed the deployment of an airstrike against former FARC strongholds in deep jungle areas. Despite more than 11,000 members being demobilised and around 8,000 weapons decommissioned, it is estimated that up to 1,000 FARC dissidents are still active across Colombia.

Amnesty International raises security concerns despite FARC deal

Amnesty International said on Wednesday that despite the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia (FARC) the Colombian armed conflict persists. The NGO's secretary-general, Salil Shetty, said that millions of people are still suffering from the remnants of the long-standing conflict. Cases of violence have been attributed to ongoing territorial disputes between paramilitary and criminal groups to secure former FARC strongholds. Weeks ago, the UN highlighted security concerns in Cauca, Catatumbo and Buenaventura despite a recently brokered ceasefire deal with the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Chancellor says that Venezuelan crisis deeply affects Colombia

Colombia's Chancellor Maria Angela Holguin told journalists in Washington DC that the current economic and political crisis in Venezuela is heavily impacting Colombia. Holguin highlighted the high number of Venezuelans crossing the borders daily, which according to reports reach up to 3,600 arrivals. She said that the relocation of funds to assist the wave of migrants arriving into Colombia is largely compromising efforts amid the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Security concerns have been drawn on both sides of the border, especially in Norte de Santander, which has recently recorded a surge of violence due to the presence of armed criminal groups.

Warning issued over landslides and floods across Bogota

Emergency services have issued a warning for the increased risk of landslides and floodings across Bogota amid the Colombian rainy season. Flood risks have been issued across the north-western neighbourhoods of Bosa, Kennedy and Engavita. Meanwhile, the mountainous areas of Bogota's Ciudad Bolivar, Usme and Usaquen neighbourhoods are especially prone to landslides. The Civil Defense authority revealed that there is special concern for Santa Fe, Ciudad Bolivar and San Cristobal, while areas in Suba, Chapinero and La Candelaria may be affected. Regional authorities in Cundinamarca are also on alert due to floods triggered by rising levels of local rivers. It has been recommended to avoid travelling at night or hiking around mountainous areas in the capital. It is advised to remain vigilant in areas surrounding rivers and bodies of water.

Several missing as two vessels sink at the Orinoco River

Joint search operations have been launched as 10 people remain missing after two boats sank at the infamous Orinoco River. Local media reported that 18 people were on board two vessels that crashed overnight on Tuesday along the Venezuelan-Colombian border. Colombia's Navy Colonel Andres Vega said that one of the vessels hit a rock while travelling from the port of Lucera to Puerto Carreno. Most victims are Colombian and Venezuelan nationals. Diego Zarate, a government official in Colombia's Vichada department, said that both vessels were sailing illegally as navigation at the Orinoco is widely forbidden during the night due to rough water conditions.

Foreign ministry accuses Venezuela of military incursions in Tibu

Diplomatic tensions with Venezuela escalated further on Tuesday when the government sent a letter to the Venezuelan foreign ministry condemning alleged military incursions into Colombian territory. Colombia's Foreign Ministry has said that Venezuelan troops and military helicopters have crossed the border in Tibu, Norte de Santander, on 15 and 16 November. In August, a similar incident happened in the northern town of La Guajira, where the Colombian government accused Venezuelan troops of raiding villages in the area.

President Santos to meet FARC leader over special tribunals row

President Juan Manuel Santos is set to meet with the leader of the recently rebranded Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) Rodrigo 'Timochenko' Londono to discuss grievances amid the peace process. Santos said on Twitter that he is willing to meet with the FARC leader on Friday. Timochenko has recently issued a public letter against a new law by the Constitutional Court which allows businesses and politicians to appear on a voluntary basis before special war tribunals. The proposed amendment was put forward by the right-wing Radical Change party, led by former VP German Vargas. Thousands of FARC rebels, businesses and high-ranking officials are being accused of involvement in the violent 50-year-long conflict.

Bus drives off a cliff and kills 14 in Sabanalarga, Antioquia

At least 14 people have been killed and 38 others injured when a bus drove off a cliff in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. The accident happened on Sunday morning along a local road between El Tambo and El Oro in Sabanalarga. Reports suggest that the vehicle lost control after avoiding a motorcycle. Rescue efforts have been hindered as the vehicle crashed at an area of difficult access. Despite a high number of casualties, bus crashes on national and regional roads in Colombia do not occur very frequently.

Police detain notorious drug-trafficking leader in Bogota

A notorious drug-trafficking leader has been detained after a police operation in Bogota. Carlos Julio Sierra Varela, alias 'Avestruz', was arrested at his apartment in the affluent Modelia neighbourhood. Avestruz is believed to be behind dozens of assassinations along with crimes linked to extortion and kidnapping across Cali. He is known as the most powerful criminal in the Cauca Valley area, while he is suspected to be linked to transnational drug-trafficking organisations such as the Clan del Golfo and influential Mexican cartels.

UNHCR concerned over local leaders' murders in the Pacific Coast

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has raised concerns over the increasing murders of local leaders along the Colombian Pacific Coast. In a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, UNHCR's spokesman William Spindler highlighted serious security challenges posed especially against afro-Colombian communities. While hundreds of social leaders were forcibly displaced - mainly in Barbacoas and Tumaco, Narino department - it is estimated that 78 local leaders were confirmed to have been killed in 2017. Armed groups have recently expanded their illegal operations after the demobilisation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Hundreds of families displaced over ELN threats in Choco

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) revealed that around 250 families across 18 indigenous communities remain affected in a further displacement wave in Choco, north-western Colombia. In an update released on Wednesday, OCHA reported that most cases have been reported in areas along the Dubasa river in Alto Baudo. According to the same report, local indigenous communities are being systematically threatened by the National Liberation Army (ELN) following the death of a local indigenous governor in Docasina. This is the third mass displacement recorded in Alto Baudo since the start of the year.

Police to investigate crimes against indigenous tribes in Narino

Police in Narino department, south-western Colombia, has launched a commision to investigate alleged crimes against local indigenous communities in Tumaco. Members of the local Awa tribe said that dozens of families were already forcibly displaced due to rising levels of violence, while it remains unclear what are the exact circumstances behind the incidents. It is believed that dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are behind the attack due to ongoing territorial disputes to secure key drug-trafficking routes and coca plantations.

Senate approves special peace tribunals

Senators have approved plans to proceed with the special justice tribunals dictated in the peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). After hours of debate, senators gave the green light to key legislative pieces that are claimed to be essential to the success of the peace agreement. The so-called Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) passed a Senate vote after the constitutional court unanimously approved the bill. Among many points, the JEP allows the participation of former FARC members in Colombian politics and the introduction of alternative sentences to demobilised guerrillas. The bill is set to be further discussed next week in the lower house of Congress.

State of emergency declared over floods in Magdalena

A state of emergency has been declared in four municipalities in Magdalena as heavy rainfall battered northern Colombia overnight on Tuesday. Hundreds of families were heavily affected across Cienaga, Aracataca, Fundacion and Pueblo Viejo when local rivers burst their banks and triggered widespread flooding. Local authorities said that the move comes in order to allow the enforcement of quick and adequate preventive measures to avoid further damage. The emergency services warned visitors and residents to remain alert for the rising levels of local rivers in Magdalena, Bolivar and Atlantico departments.

Former FARC militant shot dead in Ituango, Antioquia

A demobilised member of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been shot dead in a presumedly targeted attack in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. El Espectador reported that Delaider de Jesus Vasquez was killed when armed criminals opened fire on his vehicle in Ituango on Sunday morning. Four people who were travelling with the victim were injured. FARC has recently demobilised and launched its own political party. Colombia's government has been pressured to address the systematic murders of former FARC guerrillas, which has been largely addressed and may compromise the current peace agreement.

Avianca pilots to lift 50-day strike action

Pilots of the Colombian-based airline Avianca have lifted their 50-day strike action after an agreement was reached between the influential ACDAC syndicate and the Colombian ombudsman's office. Thousands of passengers were heavily affected after more than 3,000 flights were cancelled since mid-September. Demonstrators demanded better payments for local pilots and the reduction of their working hours. Flights and operations are expected to be gradually restored from next Monday.

UN highlights security concerns despite ELN ceasefire

The UN Mission in Colombia has highlighted five areas nationwide that continue to face serious security challenges despite the ongoing ceasefire deal with the National Liberation Army (ELN). The UN revealed at a conference that Choco department remains of special concern after a local indigenous leader was killed by the ELN back in late-October. It also stressed a recent incident where seven rural workers were killed by dissident FARC militants in Tumaco. Other areas include northern Cauca, the Catatumbo region and the port city of Buenaventura. The Organisation of American States (OAS) has also raised concerns for a reportedly ELN expansion to former FARC strongholds.

FARC to be removed from EU terrorist organisations list

EU foreign ministers are set to ratify the decision to remove the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from its list of terrorist organisations. The decision is set to be discussed further on Monday before the European Council in Brussels, Belgium. The FARC was first introduced at the list back in September 2001 and has recently been suspended in 2016 amid the peace negotiations with the Colombian government. In September this year, the FARC formally launched its new political party ahead of the 2018 presidential elections.

Joint operation leads to massive drug bust in Antioquia

A joint operation led to the seizure of more than 12 tonnes of cocaine in Antioquia, northern Colombia. The drug bust came as part of the rebranded operation Agamenon II, which has been systematically targeting the notorious Clan del Golfo group. President Juan Manuel Santos said that this is the biggest drugs seizure in a single operation in Colombian history. The drugs - believed to be worth around $360m - were found across four banana plantations between Carepa and Chigorodo. Police revealed that the drugs were ready to be exported to the US and Europe from the Uraba region. Clan del Golfo had recently suffered significant losses since a government crackdown to its operations in an attempt to capture its leader alias 'Otoniel'.

ELN claims that current ceasefire deal is at risk

The National Liberation Army (ELN) warned on Tuesday that the current ceasefire agreement with the Colombian government is at risk due to alleged military operations targeting the guerrilla group. ELN's chief negotiator, Pablo Beltran, told AFP that a preliminary assessment in the first month of truce reported a "poor balance". Beltran accused the government of not fulfilling its obligations of improving humanitarian efforts and of promoting the conflict's de-escalation. The temporary ceasefire deal was signed in early-October and is set to finish in January 2018.

Several missing due to widespread floods in Corinto, Cauca

At least four people were killed and 18 others were reported missing when the La Paila river in Cauca department burst its banks on Tuesday evening. Flood waters coupled with mud, fallen trees and debris affected dozens of families in the town of Corinto, more specifically in the neighbourhoods of La Colombiana, La Playa and Esmeralda. Evacuations were also reported in the neighbouring villages of Pedregal, Carrizales and El Tablon. President Juan Manuel Santos sent reinforcements to the area to assess for further damage and potential victims.

Ombudsman warns for new criminal group operating in Buenaventura

The Ombudsman's Office in Colombia has revealed on Tuesday that a new criminal organisation currently operates in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca. Ombudsman Carlos Alfonso Negret Mosquera alerted civil and military bodies over the arrival of the group known as the 'La Gente del Orden'. The group was based in Tumaco, Narino department, and has recently expanded its operations to Buenaventura. It is believed that the group is comprised of around 200 members dedicated to extortion, forced displacement and recruitment. Mosquera said that the group is known to be operating around the eastern and south-western areas of the city. Since the FARC demobilisation, criminal entities such as the ELN and the Clan del Golfo widely operate across the Valle del Cauca.

Explosive device kills soldier in Tumaco, Narino

A Colombian soldier has been killed and another was injured when an explosive device went off in Narino, south-western Colombia. The Colombian Army revealed that the incident happened on Monday morning during an operation to eradicate illicit crops in the restive town of Tumaco. Preliminary investigations suggest that the device was planted nearly a week ago by a local criminal organisation. In October, President Juan Manuel Santos ordered the reinforcement of the military presence in Tumaco over rising security concerns linked to drug-trafficking activities.

UN pressure lawmakers to approve key peace deal laws

The UN has pressured Colombia's Senate and the House of Representatives to approve pieces of legislation that are key to the peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Office in Colombia of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights revealed that: "(...) the approval of the statutory bill of the JEP, by the Congress of the Republic, is fundamental for the effective compliance with international obligations regarding human rights". Further, the UN body said that failing to ratify the deal may incur serious consequences and violations to international law. Colombian lawmakers are reluctant to approve the final arrangements of the peace deal as general elections are scheduled for 2018. The JEP seeks to prosecute military officials, former politicians, FARC members and civilians linked to war crimes during Colombia's long-lasting conflict.

Thousands affected as heavy downpour hit Timbiqui, Cauca

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced on Saturday that more than 5,000 people have been affected after a downpour hit south-western Colombia. OCHA said that over 1,000 families were widely affected when three local rivers - Timbiqui, Saija and Bubuye - overflowed in Cauca department last week. Local authorities in Timbiqui declared a state of emergency for the area as floods damaged dozens of buildings and destroyed a considerable amount of crops. Last week, heavy rainfall hit most departments in northern and south-western Colombia. The Cauca region usually experiences its rainy season between October and May.

Indigenous families displaced over ELN threats in Choco

More than 300 families were forced to displace after a local indigenous leader was killed in Choco, north-western Colombia. According to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), members of nine indigenous communities were forced to leave areas around Alto Baudo due to successive threats issued by the National Liberation Army (ELN). Last week, the ELN claimed responsibility for the death of an indigenous leader for his alleged links to the military. This is the first ceasefire violation reported since the ELN and the government engaged in a ceasefire agreement in September.

Indigenous community frees police officers taken hostage in Risaralda

Hundreds of members of a local indigenous community held 17 police officers hostage amid an ongoing social feud in Risaralda, western Colombia. The incident happened on Wednesday when police officers were patrolling a social action in Pueblo Rico. All weapons - which included pistols and high-calibre rifles - and police motorcycles were seized by more than 500 people. On Friday, all hostages were released along with their respective equipment after the district attorney and humanitarian organisations headed to the scene. The move came as indigenous communities across Colombia demand the government fulfil their obligations over promises stated on the FARC peace deal.

Government launch UN-backed deal to tackle illicit crops

The Colombian government and the UN have signed an historic agreement aimed to tackle illicit crops in Colombia. The accord aims to support the recently brokered peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). It seeks to relocate €270m to assist farmers to replace coca plantations with alternative crops, such as cocoa and coffee. The move comes as the government plans to reduce 100,000 hectares of coca plantation next year. Currently, social tensions remain high across Colombia over government efforts to tackle illicit crops. Tensions are further exacerbated by the presence of paramilitary and drug-trafficking groups that pressure farmers to resist the implementation of such policies.

UN warns over military approach to social protests in Catatumbo

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia has warned the government over the use of the military to tackle the escalating wave of demonstrations currently reported nationwide. In a video released on Twitter, the organisation reinforced that the deployment of the military against civilians is expressly prohibited by international law. In the video, monitors show tanks and soldiers that are present in the Catatumbo region, Norte de Santander. Security tensions in Catatumbo are currently high due to the presence of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and other paramilitary groups. Both entities are believed to be pressuring farmers to continue with the cultivation of coca despite government efforts to replace it with legitimate crops.

FARC leader launches 2018 presidential bid

The leader of the recently rebranded Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) has launched his presidential bid ahead of the 2018 elections. Rodrigo 'Timochenko' Londono announced his candidacy on Wednesday and also confirmed that the exiled social activist Imelda Daza is his running mate - Daza spent more than 20 years in exile in Sweden. Londono's victory is highly unlikely as a significant portion of the Colombian population remains sceptical about the real intentions of the demobilised former guerrillas. However, as part of the peace agreement - which was initially refused in a referendum -  with the Colombian government, the FARC will be granted five seats in each house of Senate for two electoral cycles. 

Social leader shot dead in Briceno, Antioquia

A local social leader has been killed in a renewed incident targeting social and civil organisations in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Ramon Garcia Zapata was killed on Friday afternoon on the road between Alto de Chiri and San Andres Cerquia. Garcia was one of the main advocates of efforts linked to the voluntary substitution of illicit crops in Briceno. Criminal and paramilitary entities have successively threatened social leaders and other members of the community who are willing to abide by new government policies aimed to eradicate coca plantations nationwide.

Government allows use of airstrikes to target dissident groups

Colombia's Ministry of Defense has announced on Tuesday that the Armed Forces are now authorised to carry out airstrikes to target criminal gangs and dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). According to a communique, all branches of the armed forces will be allowed to undertake airstrikes in isolated areas without civilian presence, while officials will be judicially shielded from potential prosecution. It is believed that around 800 FARC dissident members remain active in Colombia. Previous counter-insurgency strategies in the country widely employed air support to attack FARC strongholds in hardly accessible jungle areas.

Authorities foil kidnap attempt near Cali

Police officers and members of the armed forces took part in an operation to rescue a Spanish-Colombian national who was kidnapped in the outskirts of Cali, western Colombia. The incident happened on Monday morning when armed criminals ambushed the 54-year-old businessman in Tienda Nova, a rural area in Palmira. Authorities told El Pais that a witness warned the police about the kidnap. The victim was shot when fierce shooting broke out after security forces surrounded the assailants. Three criminals were detained, while authorities are investigating if they are independent or linked to a criminal organisation.

Thousands affected as heavy rains hit northern Colombia

More than 10,000 people have been affected after heavy rainfall hit northern and central Colombia. Most incidents were reported in the departments of Magdalena and Tolima, where widespread flooding hit the coastal cities of Fundacion, Aracataca, El Reten, Zona Bananera and Algarrobo. Meanwhile, the overflow of local rivers also affected the central areas of Ibague, Honda and Chaparral. In Libano, heavy rains triggered landslides across Marengo, San Jorge and Plata areas. Colombia's Andean region often experience heavy rains and severe weather conditions between October and November.

ELN militants kill indigenous leader in Choco

Members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) claimed responsibility for the death of a regional indigenous leader who was killed last week in Choco, north-western Colombia. In a statement released on Sunday, ELN militants said that Aulio Isarama was held for questioning by the guerrilla over his alleged links to Colombian military intelligence agencies. Isarama was reportedly killed when he attacked one of the assailants. According to El Pais, five men wearing ELN outfits ambushed him while he was working in Alto Baudo. The ELN and the government are currently engaged in a ceasefire deal, which led to a significant reduction of militant attacks across ELN strongholds, mainly located in northern Colombia.

Hundreds of dissident FARC militants are believed to be still active

A Colombian public defender has announced that the number of dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is believed to be higher than previously expected. Carlos Alfonso Negret said that around 800 militants are expected to be still active. Further, security sources told Reuters that the number is expected to be even higher and to be widely spread across 23 fronts mostly linked to paramilitary drug-trafficking groups and illegal mining activities. Dissident FARC members continue active mainly in departments across south-western Colombia.

Social groups and rural communities stage nationwide protests

Social groups and rural communities across several Colombian departments launched a wave of protests on Monday to demand government action over crippling levels of poverty and violence. Demonstrators gathered around Cauca, Narino, Putumayo, Meta, Guaviare, Arauca, Antioquia and Norte de Santander to request rural reforms and investment projects long-promised in the wake of the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Among the groups involved were rural workers, afro-Colombians and indigenous ethnic leaders. Further, farmers also rejected the government's policy on forced coca crops eradication, which already fueled tensions between local communities and security forces. Protests are likely to spread across other rural areas of the country.

Foreign Minister to meet ELN rebels amid peace talks

Colombia's Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin is set to meet with representatives of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in preliminary talks with the group on Tuesday in Montecristi, Ecuador. Ecuadorian diplomats told EFE that the meeting will also include leaders of the demobilised Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which will assume its political face as the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force. In September, the government and the ELN engaged in a ceasefire agreement as part of the third phase of the peace negotiations.

Government extends deadline to dismantle FARC hideouts

Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas has announced on Tuesday that the process to extract weapons and explosives from former hideouts of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will be extended for six months. Villegas said that 277 FARC strongholds nationwide are still to be fully verified within three phases. As the original UN Mission to Colombia came to an end, joint efforts will be carried out by the National Police, the armed forces and the Peace Fund. The FARC disarmament process was concluded in late-September after the guerrilla's entire arsenal was decommissioned. It has been declared that the FARC held, in total, 972 hideouts across Colombia.

Taxi drivers to launch indefinite strike in Bogota

Taxi drivers' associations and syndicates have called for indefinite strike action to protest against operations of app-based transportation services such as Cabify and Uber. Protesters have called for roadblocks across a dozen areas across Bogota - including Engavita, Suba, Fontibon, Modelia, Chicala and Techo - to demand strong government action against those companies. Demonstrations have also been called in Cali, especially in the areas of Yumbo, Palmira Candelaria and Jamundi. Protests against app-based transport services are common across Latin America, where taxi drivers claim that such companies illegally operate across major urban centres.

Soldier killed in clashes with FARC dissidents in Jamundi

A soldier has been killed and another was injured when fierce clashes broke out in the rural area of Jamundi, south-western Colombia. Reports revealed that the incident happened on Sunday amid an operation to dismantle drug-trafficking groups that operate across the Valle del Cauca region. It is believed that dissident members of the demobilised Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are behind the attack. The incident happened hours after four soldiers were slightly injured when a roadside bomb went off near Jamundi's La Liberia area. FARC dissident fronts continue to operate across Colombia despite the recently brokered peace deal. It is estimated that hundreds of militants are still active mainly in Guaviare, Guainia, Vichada and Narino.

Military reinforcements to be sent to Narino coca region

On 19 October, President Juan Manuel Santos issued an order to create a joint task force, including the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Police. He stated that due to the ongoing peace process, problems are emerging in the Narino area which borders Ecuador, and these problems will be best tackled by military reinforcements to combat drug trafficking.  Santos added at a press conference "The State has been almost totally absent from this area for many years".  With 203,000 inhabitants, Tumaco is one of the most popular routes for exporting drugs through the Pacific and on to the United States, and there are up to 12 criminal gangs disputing territory there. Colombia is the biggest producer and exporter of cocaine in the world.

Six FARC ex-guerrillas killed in Narino

On Sunday, six members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were shot by armed men in a jungle area in the south-east of Colombia.  These are the first deaths since the guerrilla group gave up arms to become a political party.  The area is a strategic region for the cultivation of coca leaves and the trafficking of cocaine where criminal gangs, the National Liberation Army (ELN) and FARC dissidents wage territorial disputes.  According to the recent peace agreement, the new FARC party are guaranteed 10 seats in Congress until 2026.

Shopkeeper killed in Cartagena

A shopkeeper was leaving his home at 06:45 on 18 October when two men appeared and fired five shots at him.  The victim, who has been identified as Martin Fidel Polanco Romero, was killed instantly.  He was not known to have any enemies.  The gun was recovered a short distance from the property, but the assailants have not been identified. The Cartagena Metropolitan Police are investigating.

Military helicopter crashes in north-east

Colombian authorities have announced that at least 10 people have been injured when a military helicopter crashed near Copacabana, a rural zone in the north-east of Colombia.  Security forces said that the helicopter was travelling from Bello in the Antioquia department to Tolemaida in the interior of the country.  The injured were transferred to various hospitals in the area.  The cause of the crash is unknown and will be investigated by the authorities.

Social leader killed in Tumaco

On 17 October it was reported that Jose Jair Cortes, a social leader working with the community government board, had been murdered in Tumaco, Narino.  The government of Narino demanded that the authorities investigate immediately particularly as Cortes was one of seven community leaders who had recently received death threats.  It was the community government board who raised the humanitarian emergency of afro-Columbians, mestizos and indigenous peoples and their treatment at the hands of armed gangs living in the rural area of Tumaco.  The region is the largest producer of coca in Colombia and is frequently the location of territorial conflicts between guerillas, drug traffickers and other criminal organisations.

Avianca pilots continue to strike

On 16 October, Avianca pilots rejected the company's ultimatum to return to their normal activities or face sanctions. Captain Jaime Hernandez, President of the Colombian Association of Civil Aviators (ACDAC), stated that the pilots will not be intimidated by Avianca. In the first 20 days of the strike, 344,000 passengers were affected due to the cancellation of over 5,440 flights. Avianca has declared that the airline is an essential service and that the strike is therefore illegal, which ACDAC dispute and the matter is now in the hands of the Supreme Court of Justice.

FARC peace deal to remain untouched for the next 12 years

 On Wednesday,Colombia's Constitutional Court has ruled that the peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) should remain unchanged for the next 12 years. According to the rule, the country's next three administrations are forbidden to implement changes to the current peace deal, which was signed under President Juan Manuel Santos's government. Among many concerns was fierce resistance from the right-wing Centro Democratico, which widely opposed the agreement. The Court also urged lawmakers and officials to maintain consistency to both the application and the legal interpretation of the deal. Colombia's high-commissioner for peace, Rodrigo Rivera, said that the rule has been implemented in order to ensure the deal's judicial guarantees to former FARC militants.

Venezuelan authorities discover common grave near Colombian border

Venezuelan authorities have discovered a clandestine common grave near the border town of San Antonio de Tachira, north-western Venezuela. According to local media, an undisclosed number of bodies were found on Monday along the Tachira River in La Parada, close to the Simon Bolivar International Bridge - which leads to the Colombian city of Cucuta. Concerns have been raised over drug-trafficking and smuggling operations near the bridge, where nearly a dozen shootings took place since the start of the year. Border security between Colombia and Venezuela have been largely compromised mainly due to ongoing diplomatic tensions between both governments.

Guests held hostage as criminals storm hotel in Bogota

More than 30 criminals stormed a hotel in central Bogota and held dozens of its guests hostage. Local media reported on Tuesday that criminals wearing police uniforms took over the hotel in La Favorita neighbourhood, where fierce shooting broke out as residents had advised the authorities. One criminal was killed and 25 others were detained when special operations officers were deployed to the area. It has been reported that the assailants were part of a local criminal group that is currently attempting to regain drug-trafficking territory in La Favorita.

FARC registers party for Colombia's 2018 election

Leaders of the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) have registered within the National Electoral Council (CNE) to take part in the 2018 election. In a press conference, Jairo Estrada, a member of the political movement Voces de Paz, said: "We made delivery of all the documentation, including the certification by the Monitoring Mechanism and the United Nations of the laying down of arms and the other documents required in the legislation." The former guerrilla movement has been fully demobilised as part of a peace deal with the government, which granted the party five seats in both houses of Congress for two terms.

Indigenous radio broadcaster killed in Cauca land eviction

An indigenous radio broadcaster has been killed during a police land eviction in Cauca, western Colombia. Clashes broke out when riot police attempted to evict hundreds of indigenous demonstrators who attempted to occupy a building at the thermal resort of Agua Tibia in Purace. Maria Astudillo was hit in the chest with a projectile and taken to a local hospital in Popayan, where she succumbed to her wounds. Purace is one of the centres of an ongoing land dispute, where the local Kokonkco community demand the liberation of indigenous lands.

Humanitarian commission attacked with gunshots in Tumaco, Narino

Over a dozen members of a humanitarian commission were attacked in Narino, south-western Colombia. Reports suggest that the mission, led by the ONG Conpaz, was targeted with tear gas and stun guns while monitoring on Sunday investigations to a previous incident in Tumaco, where police officers reportedly killed at least six Campesinos. Among the commission members were international and domestic observers, activists and journalists. Conpaz said that security forces are also believed to be behind this latest incident, which came after Vice-President Oscar Naranjo requested a special investigation to assess a potential police involvement on last Thursday's massacre.

Gold mine mudslide kills seven in Choco

At least seven miners have been killed when a mudslide struck a gold mine in Choco, north-western Colombia. Local authorities revealed that the incident happened on Friday in San Jose de Tado. Mining accidents are common in Colombia mainly due to rarely enforced health and safety conditions, where most accidents tend to occur on clandestine or unlicensed exploration sites.

UN Security Council approves resolution to monitor ELN ceasefire

The UN Security Council has approved on Thursday a resolution to extend responsibilities of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia to include the monitoring of the bilateral ceasefire deal between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Members of the Colombian government, the ELN, the UN and the Catholic Church are set to verify the truce, which is initially scheduled to last until mid-January. The UN Verification Mission is already monitoring the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Several campesinos killed in violent unrest in Tumaco, Narino

At least nine campesinos have been killed and nearly 20 others were injured when clashes broke out during a protest in Narino, south-western Colombia. A number of conflicting reports were issued regarding the circumstances behind the attack that took place in Puerto Rico, located in the area of Tumaco. On one side, rights and local organisations accused the police and the military of indiscriminately shooting protesters that have been offering resistance against the government's programme to eradicate coca crops. On the other side, the National Police issued a statement on Thursday claiming that a dissident front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) opened fire at the crowd after throwing five bomb cylinders at security forces.

Police launch massive crackdown against organised crime groups

Colombia's Minister of Defense Luis Carlos Villegas has announced on Tuesday that around 180 criminals have been detained in a massive joint operation across 18 Colombian departments. Hundreds of officers led by the police's anti-kidnapping unit, Gaula, carried out a number of operations to tackle organised crime groups dedicated to extortion and kidnapping nationwide. Among the groups targeted were the notorious "Clan del Golfo" along with 'Los Pelusos' and 'Los Puntilleros'. Paramilitary and organised crime groups expanded their operations across Colombia mainly due to ongoing peace negotiations with guerrilla groups.

Police anti-kidnapping unit rescues abducted boy in Bogota

The police anti-kidnapping unit has rescued a four-year-old boy who was kidnapped in Meta, central Colombia. The victim was taken on Monday from his home in Acacias and was rescued a day later in southern Bogota's Venecia neighbourhood. One suspect was detained, but investigations suggest that three other criminals were involved in the abduction. According to reports, criminals intended to demand 20m pesos (nearly $7k) in ransom.

Several Clan del Golfo militants detained in Cordoba

Nearly 20 members of the subversive paramilitary group Clan del Golfo have been detained across Cordoba, northern Colombia. The Colombian Navy announced on Monday that, after months of investigations, the suspects were arrested in a series of joint operations - involving the Army, the National Police and the Attorney General' office - in Lorica, San Antero, San Bernardo del Viento, Monitos and Chinu. Despite an increasing crackdown on its operations, the Clan del Golfo still widely operates in western and northern Colombia.

Roadside bomb kills three police officers in Miranda, Cauca

Three police officers have been killed after a roadside bomb hit a patrol vehicle in Cauca, south-western Colombia. The attack happened on Saturday on a road between Potrerito and Caraqueno in the rural area of Miranda. Authorities believe that the National Liberation Army (ELN) and dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are behind the attack, which came hours before the start of the ceasefire between the government and the ELN. Since the peace deal with the FARC, ELN militants and paramilitary groups have filled the power vacuum left by the former guerrilla group around the Cauca Valley.

ELN and government initiate ceasefire amid peace negotiations

The National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Colombian government officially initiated a ceasefire agreement on Sunday. Military operations targeting ELN strongholds in northern Colombia will be suspended, while the guerrilla group agreed to cease operations against security forces and government-owned structures until early-January. During this period, armed attacks are still possible mainly due to the group's looser leadership structure compared with the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In late-October, the ELN and the government are set to start their fourth round of peace negotiations.

ELN regional leader shot dead in Casanare

A regional leader of the National Liberation Army (ELN) has been killed during fierce armed clashes with the military in Casanare, northern Colombia. According to the Colombian Army, alias 'Carro Loco' was shot dead in the rural area of Aguazul during a joint operation with the police and the local attorney general's office. Loco was injured and later succumbed to his wounds after being taken to a military hospital in Yopal. Authorities believe that he is linked to the killing of nearly a dozen military soldiers in Norte de Santander back in 2013. The incident comes a day before the ELN and the Colombian government started a ceasefire agreement.

Military detains ELN regional leader in Narino

A regional leader of the National Liberation Army (ELN) has been detained along with four other militants during a military operation in Narino, south-western Colombia. Alias 'Carlos', the leader of an ELN commission in the Pacific was arrested during an operation in Charco's rural area of Banguela. According to military sources, weapons and ammunition were seized along with drugs and an electric boat. Reports suggest that one person was killed when a violent shooting broke out.

Suspect ELN militants set bus on fire in Norte de Santander

The local authorities in Norte de Santander are investigating a security incident where an inter-municipal passenger bus was set on fire. The incident happened on Monday evening on a road between Pamplona and Toledo. Preliminary investigations suggest that militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN) are believed to be behind the attack. No casualties were reported as all passengers were later taken to Toledo. ELN militants and other paramilitary groups widely operate in Norte de Santander and also across other departments along the Venezuelan border.

Dozens of paramilitary-linked criminals detained in Antioquia

Nearly 30 criminals linked to the subversive group Clan del Golfo have been detained during a massive police operation in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Hundreds of police officers took part in the operation which targeted a drug-trafficking organisation offering financial support to the paramilitary group. Colombian authorities have recently launched a massive crackdown on the Clan del Golfo after the group started systematically targeting the security forces across Antioquia and Choco. In September, President Juan Manuel Santos announced that the group was willing to surrender.

Security heightened over crime wave in Jamundi, Valle del Cauca

Local authorities in Jamundi announced that security measures in the city have been beefed up over a recent wave of criminality reported in central Colombia's Valle del Cauca. Police officers and Colombian Army soldiers will be deployed across the urban and rural areas of the region, especially in Villacolombia and La Liberia, where dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are believed to operate. Last week, a businessman was kidnapped in the city days after a former football player was shot dead.

Dissident FARC leader killed in military operation in Guaviare

A dissident leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been killed in a remote area in central Colombia. President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed that alias 'Euclides' was shot dead during a military operation in Guaviare. Euclides was one of the five FARC leaders who rejected the peace agreement between the guerrilla group and the government. He is believed to lead the dissident FARC front which kidnapped a UN monitor near Miraflores back in May, as well as being involved in extortion, drug-trafficking and the recruitment of minors.

Oil pipeline targeted in fresh attack in Norte de Santander

The state-owned oil company Ecopetrol has announced that its Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline has been targeted in a fresh attack in Teorama, Norte de Santander. According to a communique, oil spills affected local communities surrounding the Catatumbo river, near the Venezuelan border. President Juan Manuel Santos condemned the attack, while Ecopetrol announced that a contingency plan has been launched in the area. The same 780-kilometre pipeline is often targeted by the National Liberation Army (ELN), which last week launched an attack near Saravena.

UN Mission completes final steps of FARC weapons decommissioning

The UN Mission in Colombia has completed the final stage of the FARC disarmament process after nearly 9,000 weapons and 38 tonnes of explosives were destroyed. According to the UN, 8,994 weapons, 11,015 grenades, 3,528 landmines, 4,370 mortars and a massive number of bomb-making equipment were decommissioned. All weapons, ammunition and explosives were handed over by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as part of the peace agreement between the guerrilla group and the Colombian government. In mid-September, the UN Security Council approved a new mission to Colombia aimed at monitoring FARC's political transition and other aspects of the peace deal.

ELN militants launch wave of attacks in Arauca

Three police officers have been injured in separate armed attacks across Arauca department, northern Colombia. The incident happened on Saturday in the bordering city of Arauquita and Arauca. In Arauquita, a patrolling police officer was attacked when assailants activated an explosive device and opened fire in the town's Matecana neighbourhood. Meanwhile, in Arauca, two patrol police officers were also wounded when criminals opened fire on them in Sabanales area. Both attacks were followed by another incident where criminals opened fire at a police station in Fortul. Police believe that all attacks are linked to militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN), despite the group's efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement with the government.

Soldier injured in ELN grenade attack in Cauca

A Colombian soldier has been injured after suspected National Liberation Army (ELN) militants attacked an army unit in Cauca, south-western Colombia. According to an official communique, members of a special urban force in Corinto were attacked when assailants riding a motorcycle threw a grenade. The ELN and the Colombian government are set to initiate a three-month-long ceasefire agreement next week as part of the peace negotiations.

Businessman kidnapped near Cali, Valle del Cauca

Colombian authorities are investigating the disappearance of a 51-year-old businessman who was reported missing on Thursday in Valle del Cauca, south-western Colombia. Local media reported that Guillermo Moncada was taken by armed men near his mother's home in Jamundi, on the outskirts of Cali. A search operation was launched by the Army's special anti-kidnapping unit, Gaula, while further information remains undisclosed. Valle del Cauca, especially around rural areas, is widely known for the presence of drug-trafficking groups.

A dozen FARC dissident militants arrested in Meta

A dozen members of a dissident front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been detained in a military operation in Meta, central Colombia. The operation was carried out by the Army's Omega Joint Task Force which targeted members of a notorious dissident group led by alias 'Gentil Duarte', a FARC leader who rejected the peace deal. It is believed that Duarte leads one of the biggest dissident fronts in western Colombia. Hundreds of FARC dissident militants are still believed to operate across western and southern Colombia, especially in Antioquia, Choco, Cauca, Narino, Putumayo and Caqueta departments.

Roadside bomb hits police patrol unit in Cordoba

Two police officers have been killed and three others have been injured after a police patrol unit was targeted with explosives in Cordoba, north-western Colombia. Local media reported that the incident took place in the rural area of Canalete, near the department's coastal region, where a roadside bomb went off. It remains unclear which group is behind the attack, but preliminary investigations suggest the potential involvement of the Clan del Golfo, which widely operate in the region and had previously targeted security forces across northern Colombia.

Small blast reported at Bogota's shopping centre

A commercial centre in northern Bogota was evacuated following a small-scale blast on Wednesday morning. Preliminary reports suggest that the explosive was placed inside a rubbish bin at the Plaza Imperial shopping centre, while a 25-year-old man holding fake explosives attempted to rob a bank at the mall. No casualties have been reported as police officers ordered people to evacuate the venue. El Espectador reported that robberies targeting financial institutions have been largely reported across Bogota's Usaquen, Barrios Unidos and Engavita areas.

ELN launch renewed attack to oil pipeline in Saravena, Arauca

Suspected members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) launched a fresh attack on the Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline in Arauca, northern Colombia. Local media reported that a powerful blast was witnessed in the town of Saravena on Monday. Soldiers were deployed to the area to secure repair operations carried out by engineers of the oil-giant Ecopetrol. The Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline is often targeted by ELN militants stationed in the region along the Venezuelan border. The attack came nearly two weeks ahead of the start of the ceasefire agreement between the ELN and the Colombian government. 

ELN militants kill police officer in Arauca

A 25-year-old police officer has been shot dead after suspected members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) attacked his vehicle in Arauca, northern Colombia. Local media reported that David Nates Florez was killed while parking his vehicle in the city's Los Fundadores neighbourhood. Florez was shot in the head multiple times and taken severely injured to the hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds. The incident came just weeks before the start of a ceasefire agreement between the ELN and the government.

Avianca briefly suspends sales of domestic flights over potential strike

Colombia's airline Avianca has suspended the selling of internal flights tickets as a response to the potential pilots' strike due to start next week. According to a communique, the company said that ticket sales will be suspended for 72 hours from Wednesday in order to keep operations running smoothly. More than half of Avianca pilots - most who operate domestic flights in Colombia - are set to take part in the strike over ongoing payments and benefits disputes. It is still unclear if the influential ACDAC union will proceed with the strike, while the Ministry of Works is mediating negotiations between the union and the company.

Avianca pilots to launch strike action amid salary dispute

More than half of the pilots working for Colombian-based airline Avianca have voted in favour of launching strike action amid ongoing salary and benefits disputes. Pilots backed by Avianca's largest workers' union, ACDAC, demanded better payments for local pilots and the reduction of working hours. ACDAC's head Captain Jaime Hernadez told Reuters that an indefinite strike is set to start next week. Avianca is one of the main Latin American carriers and also a member of the Star Alliance.

Police station attacked with explosives in Antioquia

Two police officers have been slightly injured after criminals attacked a police station in Antioquia with explosives. The department's police commander, Colonel Carlos Mauricio Sierra, told El Tiempo that the suspects were riding a motorcycle when they fired two grenades at a police station in Puerto Valdivia. Meanwhile, two vehicles parked near buildings of the Hidroituango project - Colombia's largest hydroelectric project - were set on fire after six armed criminals stormed the facilities. Sierra said that the suspects claimed to be part of the National Liberation Army (ELN), while authorities believe that both attacks are connected.

UN Security Council approves new Mission to Colombia

The UN Security Council has approved the mandate and other operational guidelines of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia. The new mission is scheduled to start on 26 September and aims to ensure a smooth transition and reintroduction of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) members into civil society. As part of the peace agreement with the Colombian government, FARC guerrillas fully demobilised in mid-August and recently launched their own political party.

Trump pressures Colombia to tackle drug-trafficking

US President Donald Trump has threatened to decertify Colombia as an ally on the international commitment to tackle drug-trafficking. In a statement released on Wednesday, Trump pressured the Colombian government to reverse their poor records which recently unveiled a surge in the country's drug production and coca cultivation. President Juan Manuel Santos' government said in a statement that: "Without a doubt, Colombia is the country that has had the biggest success and has most combatted drugs. Nobody has to threaten us to confront this challenge." Among the 22 countries that the US considers the main drug transit zones - which Colombia is part of - only Bolivia and Venezuela were accused of significantly failing their efforts.

Pope Francis urges for openness over FARC peace deal

During his official visit to Colombia, Pope Francis urged parts of the population to consider accepting reconciliation with former guerrilla groups, namely the disbanded Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). During a meeting in Villavicencio, the Pope called for openness to accept forgiveness as thousands of FARC members are set to be reintroduced to the civil society. The meeting came just hours after FARC leader Rodrigo Londono publicly asked Pope Francis for his "forgiveness for any tears or pain that we have caused the people of Colombia." Pope Francis' visit to Colombia was one of the factors which influenced the ceasefire agreement between the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Police officer shot dead in Remedios, Antioquia

A police officer has been shot dead after being attacked at a public car park in Antioquia. The incident happened on Monday evening when German Colonia was leaving a public venue in Remedios. It remains unclear who is behind the attack, but the area is known for the heavy presence of the Clan del Golfo group. The incident came almost a week after a 38-year-old police officer was killed in an ambush in Antioquia's town of Giraldo.

Envoy to discuss UN assistance to monitor ELN ceasefire

A Colombian envoy to the UN, Jean Arnault, said that he is discussing a government request for UN assistance to monitor the recently brokered ceasefire with the National Liberation Army (ELN). Arnault said on Monday that further discussions throughout this week are set to enable Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to issue a series of recommendations. The ceasefire is scheduled to last until mid-January, where the ELN is committed to halting kidnappings and attacks on government infrastructures.

President Santos announces Clan del Golfo's plans to surrender

President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Tuesday that the subversive Clan del Golfo is willing to surrender. President Santos said in Bogota that: "We received an expression of willingness by the head of the Golfo Clan to turn themselves in, to submit to justice (...). I have asked the justice minister and the attorney general to evaluate it." The Clan del Golfo is a group intrinsically linked to drug-trafficking activities. Recently, Colombian authorities waged a massive crackdown on the group's leadership after it started to systematically attack security forces in Antioquia and Choco.

ELN and government agree temporary ceasefire

The Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) agreed to launch an indefinite ceasefire ahead of the visit of Pope Francis to Colombia. Local media reported that ELN rebels agreed to temporarily suspend attacks targeting civilians and to cease their kidnapping and extortion operations. Both sides have been engaged in the third phase of the peace negotiations in Ecuador's capital Quito, which started back in February.

Senior Clan del Golfo member shot dead in Uraba

A senior member of the subversive Clan del Golfo has been shot dead during a military operation in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Roberto Vargas Gutierrez, also known as 'Gavilan', was presumedly the second highest ranking member of the organisation and one of the most wanted criminals in Colombia. He was killed during the ongoing Agamemnon II operation in the port municipality of Turbo. Gavilan is responsible for controlling the drug-trafficking corridor in Corboda and key routes to Panama. He was also suspected of creating the 'Plan Pistola', a series of assassinations targeting security forces in Antioquia and Choco.

ELN confirms Russian hostage's death in Choco

The National Liberation Army (ELN) announced on Sunday that the Russian-Armenian hostage Arsen Voskanyan was shot dead when he tried to escape captivity back in April. According to the ELN, Voskanyan - a suspected wildlife trafficker - was killed when he overtook militants in Choco department, north-western Colombia, where he was expected to be handed over to local Red Cross delegates. The information was not confirmed by the Colombian government, which is currently engaged in peace negotiations with the ELN. 

Police officer killed during robbery in Bogota

A police officer has been shot dead after criminals attempted to rob his motorcycle in Bogota. The incident was reported on Wednesday evening when two armed men ambushed Aureliano Sierra in the capital's Ciudad Bolivar locality. Tensions escalated when Sierra reacted to the robbery and was later shot dead. Despite official data showing a significant decrease in robberies in the city, attacks targeting motorcyclists are widely common.

FARC rebranded as the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force

The demobilised Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is set to officially launch its rebranded political party on Friday. Former guerilla leaders decided during a meeting last week the party's name and potential candidates ahead of Colombia's 2018 elections. The name chosen is the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, which in Spanish keeps the same acronym as the group's guerrilla past. A ceremony is scheduled to take place in Bogota's Bolivar square on Friday. As a result of the peace agreement with the government, the FARC will be granted five seats in both houses of Congress for two terms.

Heightened security measures ahead of the Pope's visit to Colombia

Heightened security measures are expected ahead of Pope Francis's visit to Colombia. Security members from the Vatican are heading to the country to check the final arrangements ahead of the visit scheduled from 6 to 11 September. Among the cities included in the programme are Bogota, Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena. The Pope's visit was initially set as the deadline for a temporary ceasefire between the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Ministry accuses Venezuela of military incursions in La Guajira

Colombia's Foreign Ministry has filed a complaint at Venezuela's Embassy in Bogota over accusations of Venezuelan military incursions along the border in La Guajira, north-eastern Colombia. Sources told Reuters that Venezuelan soldiers crossed the border into Paraguachon overnight on Saturday and stole personal possessions from residents. Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro denied all accusations. Tensions between both countries further deteriorated after Colombia granted protection to Venezuela's former Attorney General Luisa Ortega.

Two wounded in Cartagena shooting

Two people have been wounded in a shooting in the northern coastal city of Cartagena. Two gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire at a Bomba de Amparo on the Avenue Pedro de Heredia on Monday. The victims were taken to local hospital for treatment, while police are investigating the cause of the attack.

Abducted businessman's son released in Norte de Santander

A 37-year-old son of a prominent businessman in Norte de Santander has been released after spending four days in captivity. Preliminary reports revealed that Yeison Guerrero Arevalo was abducted by four armed men while travelling along the Cucuta-Tibu highway, in the restive area of Catatumbo. It is still unclear which criminal group is behind the abduction. Norte de Santander has recently recorded a number of high-profile kidnappings mainly attributed to the National Liberation Army (ELN) and paramilitary groups.

FARC launch political party

Around 1,200 delegates have joined the first FARC congress since the group demobilised and transitioned into a political party. "At this event we are transforming the Farc into a new, exclusively political organisation," said its leader, Rodrigo Londoño. The delegates are expected to pick a new name for the group and select the candidates to run in elections in 2018.

ANI president resigns over Odebrecht scandal

The president of the National Infrastructure Agency of Colombia (ANI), Luis Fernando Andrade, has resigned due to the ongoing Odebrecht SA fraud scandal. Andrade was involved in the construction of the Ruta del Sol highway and Odebrecht has admitted paying bribes to secure the project. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has appointed the current deputy minister of finance, Dimitri Zaninovich, to succeed Andrade.

DEA concerned over hike in cocaine production in Colombia

The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has raised concerns after reports revealed a significant increase in cocaine production in Colombia. According to the DEA, up to 92 percent of all cocaine apprehended in the US comes from Colombia. Such hampering numbers are believed to be linked to a recent hike in the US domestic demand. Despite earlier efforts to eradicate illegal crops in Colombia, militant and paramilitary groups still heavily rely on the coca trade to finance their operations.

One killed as ELN clashes with paramilitary in Choco

A 23-year-old indigenous woman has been shot dead during clashes between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Clan del Golfo group in Choco, north-western Colombia. Ana Mary Mepaquito was killed when violent shootings broke out on Tuesday morning in Riosucio, a small community located along the margins of the Atrato River. Local leaders raised concerns and requested immediate humanitarian assistance due to the ongoing wave of violence across the department. Choco, a former FARC stronghold, has been the location of fierce territorial disputes between militants and paramilitary groups.

Floods affect thousands across Choco

Around 3,000 people have been widely affected due to floods across Choco, north-western Colombia. According to the Red Cross, more than 800 families were ordered to evacuate their homes after a number of local rivers burst their banks. Reports suggest that the towns of Atrato and Condoto were the most affected. Choco has been facing torrential rains for almost a week, while adverse weather conditions are forecast to continue in the coming days.

Hundreds left homeless after fire engulfs Medellin shantytown

Local authorities in Medellin declared a state of emergency on Saturday after a massive fire destroyed a whole community. The fires broke out on Friday morning at the poor neighbourhood of Moravia and quickly spread over the weekend. It is estimated that more than 470 families were left homeless and at least a dozen others were injured. Medellin's Fire Department is investigating the potential causes of the fire, which was fueled by a large number of wooden houses in the community.

Soldier injured during ELN cashes in Cauca

A Colombian soldier has been injured after armed clashes with the National Liberation Army (ELN) broke out in Cauca, south-western Colombia. Security sources revealed that a confrontation erupted along the Yantin River in Timbiqui during a joint military operation. Despite wishes to reach a cease-fire ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Colombia, ELN fronts remain widely active in the country's south-west.

Police officer killed in armed attack in Tibu, Norte de Santander

At least one police officer has been killed and five other people were severely injured when armed criminals attacked a police escort unit in the rural area of Tibu, Norte de Santander. Local media reported that armed criminals on a motorcycle opened fire at police officers escorting a cash-in-transit vehicle on Tuesday, but according to El Pais the cash was not targeted. The Tibu area is part of the restive Catatumbo region, where the National Liberation Army (ELN) and other subversive criminal groups are known to operate.

Roadside bomb hits military convoy in Tame, Arauca

Three military contractors have been injured when their convoy hit a roadside bomb in Arauca, north-eastern Colombia. The Colombian Army confirmed that the Domingo Lain Saenz front of the National Liberation Army (ELN) is behind the attack. The incident was reported on Tuesday when an escorting convoy was attacked in Tame. Despite intentions to reach a ceasefire with the government, ELN fronts remain highly active in northern Colombia.

UN completes FARC weapons extraction

The UN Mission in Colombia announced on Tuesday the official conclusion of the FARC disarmament process. According to a statement, the Special Representative of the Secretary General Jean Arnault revealed that 8,112 guns and more than 1.3 million incinerated cartridges were successfully removed through containers across 26 temporary camps. Besides the weapons, the process of fully destroying all FARC-owned explosives and unstable material was also completed. The lengthy process comes to an end after President Juan Manuel Santos declared the FARC full demobilisation in late-July.

Army seizes massive explosive depot in Narino

The Colombian National Army has seized a massive quantity of explosives and bomb-making material in Narino, south-western Colombia. Military sources revealed on Sunday that more than 445 kilos of ammonium nitrate/fuel oil (ANFO) - a highly volatile explosive - were recovered along with detonators and wires in the rural area of Sotomayor. According to the Army, such material was enough to make more than 4,000 anti-personnel landmines and dozens of bomb cylinders. It remains unclear which group owned the material; however, the area is known for the strong presence of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and drug-trafficking groups.

Large FARC explosives cache seized in Guaviare

The Colombian Air Force and anti-narcotics police have seized a large cache of explosives believed to belong to a dissident FARC front stationed in Guaviare, southern Colombia. Official sources revealed that more than 350 grenades and a number of bomb-making materials were recovered in the rural area of La Union. Despite the FARC demobilisation process, some dissident fronts still operate across Colombia, especially in Guaviare.

Santos and his cabinet to testify over Odrebrecht bribery scandal

President Juan Manuel Santos and nearly his whole former and current cabinet have been summoned by the Supreme Court to testify over bribery schemes linked to the Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht. The move involves 18 members from Santos's both former and current cabinet, including former VP German Vargas who is set to run for president in 2018. The request was made by the defence attorney of Senator Bernardo Miguel Elias - a key member and ally of the ruling Social Party of National Unity - who was arrested last week on suspicion of receiving bribes reaching up to $9m.

Girl killed in clashes between the Army and FARC dissidents in Meta

A 13-year-old girl has been shot dead during clashes between the Colombian Army and dissident militants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The incident happened on Thursday in the rural area of La Uribe in central Colombia's Meta department. Despite the full demobilisation of the FARC, dissident fronts still widely operate across several departments such as Meta and Guaviare.

ELN considers to declare unilateral ceasefire

The National Liberation Army (ELN) announced on Wednesday that the guerilla group is considering engaging in a unilateral ceasefire ahead of the Pope Francis's visit to Colombia in September. ELN's chief negotiator Pablo Beltran told Reuters that: "The ELN will take all necessary efforts to reach a bilateral ceasefire, but if not possible, we might consider to launch it unilaterally". The ELN and the government recently resumed peace talks in order to reach an immediate ceasefire.

Paramilitary group kills campesino leader in Narino

A campesino leader has been murdered after suspected paramilitary soldiers raided his residence in Narino, south-western Colombia. Preliminary reports suggest that more than 20 heavily armed individuals raided the house of Nidio Davila in El Rosario. Witnesses' accounts revealed that the assailants kidnapped Davila and took him to El Cable, where he was shot dead on the streets. It is believed that the subversive Clan del Golfo is behind the attack, which was intended to intimidate the local population.

Social leader found dead in Popayan, Cauca

A 34-year-old social leader has been found dead near her home in Cauca, south-western Colombia. According to reports, the body of Idaly Castillo Narvaez was recovered near a coffee plantation in Popayan. Castillo was the leader of the Mesa de Participacion de Victimas of the town of Rosas, a platform which addresses victims affected by the Colombian armed conflict. Since the demobilisation of the FARC, paramilitary and drug-trafficking entities are taking over the power vacuum left by the guerrilla group, especially in Cauca and Narino.

Humberto de la Calle launches 2018 presidential bid

The Colombian chief negotiator with the FARC, Humberto de la Calle, announced on Tuesday that he is running for president in the 2018 elections. De la Calle is set to represent the Liberal Party or to run independently. He confirmed in a statement that his main priority will be to coordinate efforts regarding the FARC peace agreement and tackle the escalating paramilitary violence which erupted after the guerilla group was fully demobilised. In March, Former VP German Vargas resigned from office to launch his bid to succeed President Juan Manuel Santos.

UN observers ambushed in Caloto, Cauca

Heavily armed criminals ambushed observers of the UN Mission in Colombia in Cauca, south-western Colombia. The incident happened when UN observers, police officers and members of the demobilised Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were carrying out works to extract seized weapon caches in the rural area of Caloto. A police officer was injured, while the remaining personnel was evacuated to a local UN compound. It is still unclear which group is behind the attack. Last week, the UN initiated its operations to remove more than 7,000 weapons seized amid the FARC peace process.

OCHA warns for mass displacement over clashes in Norte de Santander

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned of potential mass displacements amid ongoing clashes between militant groups and the Colombian Army. According to reports, around 30 people were already affected in Teorama, while the number is likely to increase as battles persist and spread across Norte de Santander. Clashes have been ongoing since late-July and have already led to the displacement of more than 240 people in Hacari.

Businessman kidnapped in Ocana, Norte de Santander

A 53-year-old businessman was reported kidnapped in Norte de Santander, north-eastern Colombia. The incident happened on Wednesday afternoon when two armed men attacked the victim in Ocana. It remains unclear who or which group is behind the attack, while the area is known for a strong presence of National Liberation Army (ELN) militants. The incident comes several days after presumed ELN militants kidnapped a former mayor near Toledo.

ELN finance chief arrested in heavy military operation in Choco

The Colombian Armed Forces and the National Police launched a joint operation on Wednesday, against a National Liberation Army (ELN) front stationed in Choco, north-western Colombia. The operation took place in Jurado, where two ELN members were arrested and several militant materials were seized. Among the detained is alias 'Wilmar', a chief financial operator for the Nestor Tulio Duran front. According to the military, the front is mostly dedicated to drug-trafficking and attacks targeting security forces.

Curfew imposed as miners' protests escalate in Antioquia

Antioquia's Governor Luis Perez imposed a military curfew as ongoing miners' protests escalate in the towns of Remedios and Segovia. The National Army was deployed to the region on Monday after at least 24 people were injured amid long-standing demonstrations against the multinational mining company Gran Colombia Gold. The measure comes as local authorities are investigating if paramilitary and militant groups are infiltrated among protesters to generate chaos and incite further violence.

Four ministers replaced in Santos cabinet reshuffle

President Juan Manuel Santos has announced changes in four ministries and a number of governmental organisations. German Cardona will become the new transport minister, while Marina Gutierrez and Jaime Pumarejo will be sworn in as Trade and Housing ministers respectively. Agriculture Minister Aurelio Iragorri will departure, but only when the cattle foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in northern Colombia is brought under control. The move comes as Santos's administration enters its final year.

Buses set ablaze amid indigenous land dispute in Cauca

Two buses and more than 100 hectares of land have been set ablaze amid presumed land disputes in Cauca, south-western Colombia. The incident was reported on Saturday in Caloto when indigenous militants set a cane plantation on fire, triggering outrage from local business associations and farmers' groups. According to El Pais, the authorities are investigating if the National Liberation Army (ELN) or FARC dissidents are behind the attack.

Two ELN senior members arrested in northern Colombia

Two National Liberation Army (ELN) leaders have been arrested in separate operations in Bolivar and Antioquia, northern Colombia. Luis Meza was arrested in the rural area of El Bagre for links to illegal mining, extortion and kidnapping. Meza is also accused of targeting the security forces in a number of occasions along the Bajo Cauca region. Meanwhile, in Bolivar, the police arrested Marina Vallejo, who is accused of leading an armed front dedicated to targeting civilians and infrastructures across both departments. The government and the ELN are currently negotiating a ceasefire as part of ongoing peace negotiations.

Clan del Golfo commander jailed in Villavicencio, Meta

A suspected Clan del Golfo senior commander was jailed on Monday for murder and terror-related charges. Edilson Cifuentes, also known as Richard, was arrested in Villavicencio due to his role in leading paramilitary operations in Meta and Guaviare provinces. He previously spent nearly 10 years in prison before being released in 2016. Despite successive crackdowns on the group's operation, the Clan del Golfo has been gaining vital grounds across former FARC strongholds.

Six contractors killed in Buritica gold mine blast, Antioquia

Six people have been killed in a powerful blast at a gold mine in Antioquia, northern Colombia. According to Reuters, all victims were security contractors of the Canadian-based Continental Gold, who were inspecting an illegal gold mine in Buritica. It is still unknown what triggered the explosion, while regional authorities are investigating for further casualties. Illegal mining is common in Colombia and deadly accidents often occur.

Soldier killed in ongoing clashes in Hacari, Norte de Santander

A Colombian soldier has been killed and another injured in ongoing clashes between security forces and militants in Hacari, Norte de Santander. Victor Charry Olaya was killed on Thursday when a presumed National Liberation Army (ELN) sniper opened fire near Maracaibito. Security in the region is still volatile after hundreds of people were displaced when fierce clashes broke out earlier this week.

College's chairman shot dead in Medellin, Antioquia

The head of a Medellin's college was shot dead during a suspected robbery attempt on Thursday afternoon. Manuel Jaime Arango, chairman of the Rafael Uribe Uribe College, was killed when two armed men attempted to steal his motorcycle on Campo Valdes neighbourhood. The incident was confirmed by Medellin's Mayor Federico Gutierrez, who said the police is investigating the attack. Arango was killed on the same day four other people were also assassinated in separate incidents across Medellin.

Police investigate rape of Spanish tourist in Cartagena, Bolivar

The police in Cartagena, northern Colombia, is investigating a sexual attack on a 22-year-old Spanish tourist last Monday. According to reports, the victim was walking with her partner when two moto-taxi drivers offered them a ride near Turbaco area. Moments later, while en route to Pasacaballos, one of the drivers diverted from the route and raped her. Local authorities offered a reward of COP10m ($3,500) for information leading to the perpetrators' arrest.

FARC to launch political party in September

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced on Monday a settled date to launch a political party. Carlos Antonio Lozada, FARC's senior commander, told AFP that: "We will publicly launch the party on September 01 in the Plaza de Bolivar". In May, the Colombian Congress approved - as part of the peace deal - to grant FARC five seats in both houses between 2018 and 2026. FARC guerrillas fully demobilised last month after peace talks with the government put an end to a long-standing armed conflict, in which more than 260,000 people were killed.

Government and ELN to resume peace talks in Quito, Ecuador

Peace talks between the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) are scheduled to enter their third phase on Monday. Colombian officials and ELN leaders are set to meet in Quito, Ecuador, in the attempt to reach a ceasefire agreement in order to allow humanitarian aid to areas heavily affected by the armed conflict. Further points regard the introduction of ELN militants into the Colombian society. Talks are set to last until early-September, ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Colombia.

ELN kidnaps former mayor in Norte de Santander

A former Colombian mayor has reportedly been kidnapped in a suspected National Liberation Army (ELN) ambush in Norte de Santander. Carlos Omar Delgado Bautista was abducted while travelling with his family along the Toledo-Chinacota road when four ELN militants attacked his vehicle. Local media reported that the victim's family were tied up and robbed before he was taken. Despite government talks with the ELN, the militant group still engage in kidnaps and attacks against security forces in Norte de Santander.

Two ranchers kidnapped in Versalles, Valle del Cauca

Five armed criminals kidnapped on Sunday two ranchers in Valle del Cauca, western Colombia. Luis Alejandro Lopez and John Jairo Moreno were abducted in the rural area of Versalles and taken towards the neighbouring department of Choco. Authorities believe that a National Liberation Army (ELN) front is behind the abductions. The Army and its anti-kidnapping elite unit Gaula launched an operation in the area, which was recently reinforced due to a widespread criminal presence.

Two minors die of Chagas disease in Villanueva, Bolivar

Three cases of Chagas disease have been reported in Bolivar, northern Colombia. A two-year old boy and another minor were killed on Thursday after contracting the disease in Villanueva, where another teenager is in a critical condition. Chagas disease is a tropical parasitic infection usually transmitted through infected bugs in rural areas. Symptoms may include fever, aches, rash and diarrhoea; however, in many cases, symptoms are not visible for many years.

Five killed and scores injured in bus crash in Guajira

Five people have been killed and 43 others were injured in a bus crash in Guajira, northern Colombia. The accident was reported overnight on Wednesday when a passenger bus collided with a tanker lorry along the Riohacha-Cuestecitas road. Police revealed that the bus operated by Expreso Brasilia overturned and caught on fire after the collision. Despite a high number of casualties, bus crashes on national and regional roads in Colombia do not occur very frequently.

Campesino leader shot dead in El Carmen, Norte de Santander

The body of a Campesino social leader has been found on the streets of El Carmen, Norte de Santander. Ezequiel Rangel was killed when suspects opened fire on him near Guamalito. Rangel was the leader of the peasants association in Catatumbo, a former FARC-stronghold long haunted by the presence of paramilitary and militant groups, such as the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the People's Liberation Army (EPL). Despite the FARC peace agreements, dozens of social leaders have been killed in the region and across Colombia.

Military in fierce armed clashes, Norte de Santander

Dozens of families have been displaced after a fierce armed confrontation broke out in Hacari, Norte de Santander. Local media reported that gunfire lasted for more than nine hours during a military operation to secure and control the area from an undisclosed armed group. A soldier was injured, but the overall number of casualties is still unclear. Armed militants often engage in clashes with security forces in Norte de Santander, where criminal and paramilitary groups are active.

Scores injured in Bogota tower block blast

At least 26 people were injured when a powerful explosion hit a tower block in northern Bogota. Emergency services rushed to the Tibabita neighbourhood in the early hours of Sunday after a strong blast ravaged one of the block's apartments. It remains unclear what caused the explosion, as technicians headed to the scene to investigate for potential gas leaks. 

Solider killed in shooting with ELN near Caceres, Antioquia

A Colombian soldier has been killed in clashes with the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Antioquia, northern Colombia. The incident happened on Sunday when gunfire erupted during a military operation in the rural area of Caceres. Reinforcements were sent to the area in order to locate the militants, who are believed to be part of ELN's Heroes de Taraza front. Despite ongoing peace talks between the government and the ELN, armed incursions targeting security forces are common in northern Colombia.

Russia to suspend beef imports over FMD outbreak

Officials confirmed on Tuesday that Russia will suspend beef imports from Colombia due to a recent foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in northern Colombia. The Dutch overseas territory of Curacao is also applying the same measure. Both countries are joining Peru, Panama and Chile which also impose meat imports bans after an FMD strain was reported in late-June. FMD does not affect humans directly, but it is highly contagious to other animals. This is the first time the FMD has reappeared in Colombia after it was eradicated back in 2009.

UN Security Council approve new mission to Colombia

The UN Security Council has unanimously approved on Monday the establishment of a UN Verification Mission in Colombia. The new mission is set to replace the current UN Mission in Colombia - which oversaw the disarmament process - in September. The Verification Mission will fully monitor the reintroduction of former FARC militants into the civilian society for an initial period of 12 months. The mission comes on the same day President Juan Manuel Santos granted amnesty to 3,600 FARC rebels under last year's peace agreement.

Bomb attack kills two soldiers in Guaviare

At least two soldiers have been killed and four civilians were injured when a bomb went off in Guaviare, southern Colombia. According to the Colombian Army, an improvised explosive device was planted inside a bin before being detonated via remote control in the rural area of San Jose del Guaviare. It is believed that dissident FARC militants are behind the attack. Despite reaching a peace deal with the government, some FARC militias refused the agreement and remain highly active in Guaviare.

Military rescues seven kidnapped workers in Casanare

The National Liberation Army (ELN) released seven workers after a joint military operation in Casanare, central Colombia. Air Force and Army soldiers headed to Sacama after they were informed of the victims' location. Reports suggest that there was no armed confrontation as the militants are believed to have fled the area before military helicopters arrived at the scene. The workers were heading to La Salina on Wednesday when their vehicle was ambushed by suspected militants of ELN's Adonai Ardila Pinilla Front.

ELN militants erect roadblocks in Norte de Santander

Colombian security forces were mobilised on Tuesday after National Liberation Army (ELN) militants erected a roadblock in Norte de Santander. Militants blocked a road with a lorry for several hours near a school in Toledo. Meanwhile, People's Liberation Army (EPL) erected another blockade between Cucuta-Ocana road. The incident came as an ongoing blockade was active for its second day in the neighbouring department of Arauca, where special anti-explosives brigades were deployed to neutralise three roadblocks along the main department's road to central Colombia.

ELN bomb attack wounds two officers in La Mata, Cesar

Two police officers have been injured in a bomb attack in Cesar, northern Colombia. The attack happened on Monday evening when suspected members of ELN's Francisco Bosio front targeted a police station in La Mata. Despite peace talks with the government, ELN militants continue to attack security forces nationwide. In late April, a civilian was killed in a car bomb attack in Cesar's Pailitas area.

Clan del Golfo leader arrested in Montecristo, Bolivar

Colombia's Armed Forces have announced on Wednesday that a member of the subversive Clan del Golfo group was killed in Bolivar, southern Colombia. Seven members were also arrested, including 'Robin', the second in command of the group's Luis Fernando Gutierrez Front stationed in Montecristo. Besides the arrests, several weapons and a cache of ammunition were seized. The joint operation came as an important hit on Clan del Golfo's operations due to the Front's main role on extortion and drug trafficking activities.

FARC front release UN worker kidnapped in Guaviare

The Ministry of Defense confirmed on Wednesday that the abducted UN worker has been released from captivity. According to the communique, Herley Lopez Hernandez has informed his superiors that he had been freed. Hernandez was abducted nearly two months ago near Miraflores by a FARC dissident front stationed in Guaviare, southern Colombia.

Former mayor's brothers shot dead in San Pedro, Valle del Cauca

Three brothers of a former Colombian mayor have been killed during a shootout in Valle del Cauca, western Colombia. The victims were attacked on Monday afternoon near a snack bar in San Pedro, where armed criminals on a motorcycle opened fire. The deceased were family members of San Pedro's former mayor James Guarin Vasquez, who served for two terms in office. Local media reported that Vasquez was not at the scene during the attack, while it remains unclear if the attack is linked to him.

Several killed in bus accident in Santander

Nearly a dozen people have been killed and six others were injured when a passenger bus crashed with a lorry in Santander, north-eastern Colombia. The collision took place on Tuesday morning along the Panamericana highway near Barrancabermeja. Local authorities revealed that the bus was carrying 15 passengers from Puerto Tarra to Bucamaranga. The crash comes just one day after the end of Colombia's religious holidays, where more than 30 people were killed in road accidents nationwide.

Roadside bomb wounds three officers in Calamar, Guaviare

Three police officers have sustained light injuries after a roadside bomb went off in Guaviare province, southern Colombia. The incident happened on Monday when a police patrol unit was attacked in Calamar. Authorities believe the attack was carried out by a dissident front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) stationed in the region. Despite the peace agreement with the FARC, the group's dissident fronts remain widely active in Guaviare; where last May a UN worker was kidnapped near Miraflores.

ELN to seek ceasefire agreement ahead Pope Francis's visit

The Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) completed their second rounds of peace talks in Quito, Ecuador on Friday. Both the ELN and the government showed their commitment to initiate negotiations on a ceasefire in order to achieve significant progress and ease escalating tensions ahead of Pope Francis's visit in September. Talks are scheduled to resume on 24 July. Negotiations have suffered several setbacks due to the increasing number of recent attacks and kidnappings carried out by ELN militants.

Five killed amid wave of violence in Medellin, Antioquia

Five people have been killed amid a wave of violence in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. The incidents happened on Thursday in separate locations in the department's capital Medellin. Three bodies were found abandoned during the morning in Santa Monica, Bombona and Kennedy neighbourhoods. It is still unclear what motivated the crimes. Meanwhile, two other victims were shot dead, including a man who attempted to stop a robbery in the Florencia area. So far in 2017, more than 240 people were assassinated in Medellin.

ELN militants kill army soldier in Norte de Santander

A Colombian army soldier has been killed during an armed confrontation with suspect National Liberation Army (ELN) militants in Norte de Santander, northern Colombia. The shooting broke out in Teorama when soldiers were escorting repair services along the Cano Limon Covenas oil pipeline, which is often targeted by ELN militants despite ongoing peace talks with the government. Besides the ELN, drug-trafficking and paramilitary groups are also known for their presence in Norte de Santander.

Taxi driver stabbed during robbery in Pereira, Risaralda

A 57-year-old taxi driver has been stabbed during a robbery attempt in Pereira, central Colombia's Risaralda department. Silvio Antonio Agudelo was working in Canceles area when two armed men attacked him on Sunday evening. Agudelo managed to call his colleagues on his radio, who rushed him to the hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds. Pereira is one of the most dangerous cities in Colombia, presenting one of the highest homicide rates in the country.

Neighbours to halt meat imports due to FMD outbreak in Cauca

Peru and Panama halted meat and milk imports from Colombia after a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) strain was reported in Arauca, near the Venezuelan border. Both countries are suspending imports after seven animals contracted the disease at a farm in Tame. Despite the virus not directly affecting humans, it is highly contagious to other animals and may seriously affect the country's animal product exports. This is the first time the FMD reappeared in Colombia after it was eradicated back in 2009.

Three police officers killed in armed incursion in Cauca

Members of the Police Judicial Investigation Section (SIJIN) were attacked on Monday evening in Cauca, south-western Colombia. At least three SIJIN officers were killed and three others remain missing when heavily armed criminals ambushed them in La Vega. The area is known for the heavy presence of National Liberation Army (ELN) front Manuel Vazquez Castano, but it is still unclear who or which group is behind the attack.

FARC complete full disarmament process

The UN Mission in Colombia announced on Monday that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) completed its disarmament process. In a press release, the UN revealed that FARC's full arsenal of 7,132 weapons has been registered and stored as part of the peace deal - some weapons are still to be handed over before August. The achievement comes a week after President Francisco Manuel Santos declared "the end of FARC", as the guerilla group initiated the third phase of the disarmament process.

Nine detained over links to Bogota bomb attack

Nine people have been arrested in connection with last week's bomb attack which killed three people at a shopping centre in Bogota. The suspects were arrested in operations launched across two municipalities of Tolima province. Authorities accused the attackers of being linked to the left-wing militia People's Revolutionary Movement (MRP). The MRP is believed to be a National Liberation Army (ELN) splinter cell, which employed a similar technique in previous attacks - placing low-intensity bombs in women's public restrooms.

Dozen killed in coal mine blast in Cundinamarca

At least a dozen people have been killed in a blast at an underground coal mine in Cundinamarca, central Colombia. Emergency services rushed to the Cucunuba mine on Friday afternoon when an explosion was reported in the Pueblo Viejo area. According to the National Mining Agency (ANM), the blast was caused by high levels of methane. Government sources confirmed that the mine was operating illegally and that safety measures were nonexistent. Accidents in illegal mines in Colombia are common and often lead to a high number of casualties.

ELN release Dutch journalists in Catatumbo

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has freed two Dutch TV presenters on Saturday. Despite an initial setback blamed on miscommunication, the group finally freed the duo in Catatumbo, near the Venezuelan border. Derk Bolt and Eugenio Follender were abducted last week in El Parra area in Norte de Santander. Both were working on a Dutch TV programme aimed at locating missing relatives abroad. According to the ELN, they were kidnapped after entering an ELN stronghold. Abduction is one of the main issues in the ongoing peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the ELN.

Government launch renewed crackdown on Clan del Golfo

Colombia's Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas announced on Thursday the launch of a new operation to dismantle the subversive Clan del Golfo group. Villegas revealed that 1,500 soldiers and police officers will be deployed nationwide to assist a 3,200-strong joint task force in efforts to capture Clan del Golfo's leader Dairo Antonio Usuga David. This is the second phase of the 'Agamenon' operation, which was launched two years ago. Despite successive crackdowns on the group's operation, Clan del Golfo has been gaining vital grounds due to the FARC's demobilisation process.

Ten killed as tourist boat sinks in Antioquia

At least 10 people have been killed after a tourist boat sank in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. The accident happened on Sunday afternoon when a four-story vessel sank during a tour along the Penol-Guatape reservoir. More than 30 people were killed and 10 others believed to be still missing. Local media reported that passengers were not wearing life jackets, while authorities are investigating if the vessel was overcrowded and followed all safety regulations.

Special court grants parole to FARC top commander

The Special Peace Jurisdiction (JEP) has released 'Martin Sombra' on parole. Sombra is one of the FARC's highest ranking commanders who had been under arrest since 2008. He was previously sentenced to 24 years in prison for links to the 1998 attack on the security forces in Mitu, where 41 people were killed and 61 others were kidnapped. He is also responsible for the kidnapping of former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and other high-profile political abductions.  JEP is a special court created to investigate FARC guerrillas amid the Colombian peace process.

Several landslides block main Bogota-Villavicencio road

Over a dozen people have been rescued after heavy rains triggered several landslides in central Colombia. The whole Bogota-Villavicencio road has been blocked in 19 points. The incident happened near Pipiral, where dozens of families were affected by the rising levels of the Pipiralito River. No casualties have been reported. Landslides and flooding become more frequent during Colombia's rainy season, which usually lasts until October.

ELN blamed for attack on oil pipeline in Arauca

The Cano-Limon Covenas oil pipeline, one of the most important oil infrastructures in the country, has suffered renewed attacks over the weekend in Arauca, northern Colombia. Initial reports revealed that suspected members of the National Liberation Arm (ELN) targeted an oil duct near Saravena on Saturday afternoon. Army officers and Ecopetrol workers rushed to the scene to avoid further spillage contaminating drinking water. So far, 32 attacks on the Cano Limon-Covenas have taken place in 2017, all reported in the Arauca, Boyaca, Norte de Santander and Cesar departments.

Two Dutch journalists kidnapped in Norte de Santander

Two Dutch journalists have been kidnapped in Norte de Santander, northern Colombia. Both men were working for a Dutch TV programme aimed at locating missing relatives. They were stationed in El Tarra, near the restive Venezuelan border, and were reported missing over the weekend in Catatumbo. The National Liberation Army (ELN) - which holds a strong presence in the region along with other paramilitary groups - has been accused of being responsible for the kidnappings. According to the BBC, the group refused to comment on the incident.

Seven injured in grenade attack in Bogota

At least seven people have been injured in a grenade attack in Bogota. A strong blast was reported in the capital's Guacamayas neighbourhood in the early hours of Saturday when local residents were having a meeting. It remains unclear who was responsible for the attack, while authorities are investigating if the incident was gang-related. Grenade attacks, usually targeting security forces, are common across Colombia.

Three killed in bomb attack at Bogota shopping centre

Three people were killed and nearly a dozen others injured in a bomb attack at a shopping centre in Bogota. The incident happened on Saturday evening at the Andino shopping centre in Zona Rosa area. Police reports suggest that the blast was caused by a small home-made device placed in the women's toilet. It remains unclear who or which group is behind the attack as the police are treating it as a terror-related incident. 

Roadside bomb kills a soldier in Arauca

A Colombian soldier has been killed and three others injured after their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Arauca, northern Colombia. The incident happened on Wednesday evening near the Angostura area when soldiers were heading to deliver supplies to a local oil exploration zone. Authorities are blaming the National Liberation Army (ELN), which widely operates in the region, for carrying out the attacks. Despite ongoing peace talks with the government, ELN militants continue to target security forces in northern Colombia.

VP demands FARC dissidents to release kidnapped UN worker

Vice-president Oscar Naranjo has demanded that a dissident FARC front immediately releases a UN worker kidnapped last month in Guaviare, southern Colombia. Naranjo said the government will not comply with such acts amid the ongoing peace process agreed with the FARC leadership. The demands come after Jean Arnault, chief for the UN Mission in Colombia, acknowledged that the UN could be more incisive to pressure the group to achieve the worker's release.

FARC complete second disarmament phase

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) reportedly completed the second phase of the disarmament process amid the peace agreement with the Colombian government. So far, the FARC was supposed to surrender 60 percent of 7,000 weapons registered in their arsenal. However, the UN Mission in Colombia said that only 40 percent of the total were handed over. The process is set to head to the third part of the process, where militants are expected to hand over the remaining 40 percent of their weapons by late-June. The process has been suffering a series of setbacks, including delays on construction of camps, leading to the extension of the deadlines.

HRW condemns attacks to Colombia's native and afro population

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned on Wednesday the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Gaitanistas Autodefense (AGC) for successive attacks targeting the native and afro-Colombian population. In a statement released in Washington DC, HRW Director Jose Miguel Vivanco blamed such groups for killings, recruitment of minors and threats directly targeted at such population. While ELN is holding peace talks with the government, paramilitary members of the AGC have been accused of fulfilling FARC's former strongholds through association with criminal entities.

ELN calls for ceasefire ahead of Pope Francis's visit

On Monday, the National Liberation Army (ELN) requested the Colombian government to establish a temporary ceasefire ahead of Pope Francis' visit in early-September. The guerilla group claims that the measure would be imperative in the strengthening of the peace negotiations initiated in February. Despite peace negotiations, ELN militants remain widely active in the country's northern departments.

UN confirm FARC met first disarmament deadline

The UN confirmed on Wednesday that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) fulfilled the first disarmament deadline under the peace agreement with the government. According to a statement, the group has officially handed over 30 percent of its weapons. The disarmament process suffered several setbacks linked to delays in the construction of camps and several alleged violations by both parts. Two other deadlines were established to FARC militants surrender the remaining of their 7,000 registered weapons.

Social leader assassinated at home near Barranquilla

Two armed men on motorcycles gunned down a local social leader near Barranquilla, northern Colombia. Bernardo Cuero Bravo was killed when watching a televised football match at home in Malambo. Cuero was a member of the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES) and also involved in many other projects in Atlantico Department. AFRODES requested the government further security in the area, claiming that several of its members and Rights leaders often suffer threats.

Woman killed on gender-based homicide in Cali

A 26-year-old woman has been killed by her partner in Cali, western Colombia. Preliminary investigations suggest that Stephanie Ramirez was raped and beaten to death by her partner at her mother-in-law's house. This is the fifth case of gender-based homicide reported in Cali during 2017. Domestic violence against women has been widely reported in recent months, triggering widespread protests in Latin America.

UN Mission reveals series of violations in FARC peace deal

The UN Monitoring and Verification Commission revealed on Tuesday a series of ceasefire violations under the peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Out of 10 violations recorded, three of them were considered severe. They include a rape attempt of two children at a FARC mobilisation camp; the wounding of a soldier injured after he entered a camp in Guaviare; and a military aircraft overflight of a camp in Norte de Santander. Such violations generate a setback on the peace process, which has already suffered a number of delays, especially regarding the full disarmament procedures.

Floods and landslides affect thousands in Bahia Solano, Choco

Thousands of people were affected as heavy rains triggered widespread floodings and landslides in Bahia Solano, north-western Colombia's Choco department. More than 300 families were evacuated in the early hours of Wednesday after water levels rose in two local rivers. Local authorities are urging the central government to assist the area, which has been facing reported food and energy shortages - food and fuel remain limited in the area after protests forced the closure of the Buenaventura port.

Thousands demand education reforms in Bogota

More than 60,000 teachers from public schools nationwide marched on the streets of Bogota amid a month-long strike. Teachers, students and several other workers' unions took the streets to complain about the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos. Teachers are demanding more support and better working conditions from the education ministry. The Colombian Federation of Education Workers (Fecode) is accusing the government of stalling the talks.

FARC leader threatens to suspend disarmament campaign

Rodrigo 'Timochenko' Londono, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), threatened to suspend the guerilla's disarmament campaign after two FARC demobilised members were allegedly arrested by Colombian security forces. Timochenko has accused the Colombian government of violating the peace agreement with both arrests in Bogota and Guaviare. Last week, the government announced the FARC's disarmament deadline extension for extra 20 days due to delays in special camps construction.

Thousands of teachers to occupy Bogota amid strike

Thousands of teachers are expected to storm Bogota to pressure the government amid a long-standing strike action. The Colombian Federation of Education Workers (Fecode) revealed that teachers will arrive in the capital on Tuesday morning from several parts of the country and gather at the Plaza de Bolivar until the government complies with their demands. Teachers are engaged in an indefinite strike in early-May to demand better working conditions and higher salaries.

Several ELN fighters arrested in Arauca

The Colombian Army announced on Sunday that 10 National Liberation Army (ELN) militants have been arrested in Arauca, north-western Colombia. The members were part of the Camilo Cienfuegos commission; which is dedicated to armed attacks in Arauquita, including on the Cano-Limon oil pipelines. The commission was also known for being one of ELN's financial arms. The crackdown comes as the government is negotiating a peace deal with the ELN in Quito, Ecuador.

Violent demonstrations enter second week in Buenaventura

Demonstrators stormed the streets of western Colombia Buenaventura amid an ongoing wave of violent unrest in Colombia's Pacific port city. Protests initiated in mid-May and escalated days later when riot police stormed the streets killing two protesters. Civil unrest is likely to continue in the following days as demonstrators demand government action on tackling widespread poverty and inequality in the area. Locals also demand more investment in public infrastructures from potable water access to fight against hampering crime levels.

US to support Colombia against Clan del Golfo

The Colombian government has launched a renewed crackdown against the subversive Clan del Golfo group, which remains highly active in the country through the systematic targeting of police officers and soldiers. The measure is being supported by the US government, which in conjunction with the Colombian government is offering up to $6m for the capture of Clan del Golfo leader Dairo Antonio Usuga David. The Clan del Golfo has been gaining important ground as a result of the FARC demobilisation and ongoing peace negotiations with the ELN.

Thousands of teachers march amid nationwide strike in Medellin

Thousands of teachers and education professionals marched on the streets of Medellin to demand better working conditions and higher salaries. The march, called by the Teachers' Association of Antioquia (Adida), took place from La Playa Avenue towards Parque de las Luces, near Alpujarra area. In early-May, the Colombian Federation of Education Workers (Fecode) called an indefinite strike, which still remains in place.

Hurricane season begins along Caribbean Sea coast

The National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD) declared on Thursday the beginning of the hurricane season in Colombia's Caribbean Sea coast. The departments of La Guajira, Bolívar, Atlántico, Magdalena, San Andrés y Providencia, Sucre, Córdoba and Chocó are under alert as widespread damage and energy shortages are expected. Severe weather may also trigger flooding, heavy rains, tropical cyclones and strong winds.

Four ELN militants arrested in Antioquia

Four National Liberation Army (ELN) militants have been arrested during a military operation in Antioquia, northern Colombia. The army announced on Tuesday that the operation targeted members of the 'Heroes de Taraza' faction, which was linked to drug-trafficking in Bajo Cauca area. The operation comes while the Colombian government and the ELN leadership entered their third week in the peace negotiations in Quito, Ecuador.

President announces FARC disarmament deadline extension

President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Tuesday the extension of the deadline for the FARC guerilla's disarmament. The initial deadline was set for Tuesday 30 May, but Santos said that the government will allow an extra 20 days in order to complete the UN-monitored disarmament process due to delays in the construction of special camps, where more than 7,000 demobilised FARC members are waiting to be reintroduced in civil society.

Protests hit oil production at Ecopetrol

Production of crude at the La Cira-Infantas oilfield has been hit by protests led by local residents.  State-run oil company Ecopetrol said production had fallen from 40,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 7,300 after protesters blocked roads around the site. The protests were prompted by a change in employment regulations following the passing of a decree banning oil companies from using illegal third parties to hire oilfield workers.

Six killed in industrial zone explosions, Cartagena

At least six people have been killed and 23 others have been wounded in multiple explosions in the industrial zone of Cartagena, Bolivar. The explosions occurred on a ship whilst maintenance work was being carried out. As many as three explosions may have occurred - with the first reportedly felt throughout a five-kilometre radius. The precise causes of the explosions have not been determined as of yet.

Several injured in grenade attack in Caceres, Antioquia

Several people have been injured when a local restaurant was the target of a grenade attack in Caceres, northern Colombia. El Colombiano reported that several civilians and police officers were inside the building when criminals riding a motorcycle threw a hand grenade. Attacks targeting security forces became frequent across some Colombian departments after criminal groups launched a plan aimed to specifically target soldiers and police officers.

Five killed amid territorial disputes in Cucuta, Norte de Santander

At least five people have been killed and several others injured as violent clashes between criminal groups broke out in the rural area of Cucuta, Norte de Santander. Violence remains an issue in the area amid ongoing territorial disputes between Los Rastrojos and Clan del Golfo militants. The areas of most concern are San Faustino, Guaramito and Ricaurte. Other groups, such as Los Pelusos, are also involved in the dispute, which aims to control drug routes and territory along the Venezuelan border.

Clan del Golfo target three officers in Cordoba

Three police officers have been injured when presumed members of the outlawed Clan del Golfo ambushed a patrol vehicle in Cordoba, north-western Colombia. The attack happened near Buenavista on the road between Arboletes and Monteria when hidden criminals opened fire on the vehicle. The Clan del Golfo is believed to have launched the 'Plan Pistola' last week, which offers rewards to gang members who kill police officers and security forces.

Congress approve FARC political party after Constitutional revision

The bill which permits the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to be introduced in to Colombian politics through the creation of a political party was fully approved by Congress after a Constitutional Court revision. The bill was already partially approved in late-April but only achieved conciliation on Wednesday - with 50 votes in favour and two against. The agreement dictates that the FARC will be granted five seats in both houses between 2018 and 2026.

Clan del Golfo ambush prisoner transport convoy in Antioquia

Two guards have been injured when a convoy transporting prisoners was ambushed by suspected Clan del Golfo militants in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. The attack happened on Tuesday when heavily armed criminals attacked a National Penitentiary Institute (Inmet) convoy in the El Doce area, between Taraza and Puerto Valdivia, where one inmate was killed and another was injured. Authorities believe the attack was retaliatory as the prisoners were paramilitary members.

Eight hostages released after kidnap in Novita, Choco

Colombia's Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday that the eight people feared kidnapped by the National Liberation Army (ELN) have been released. President Juan Manuel Santos said on his Twitter that the hostages were already secured by Colombian troops. A massive operation took place in Novita, Colombia's north-western Choco department, after seven men and one woman disappeared. Despite the area being known as an ELN stronghold, it remains unknown if the ELN is in fact linked to the abductions.

Teachers to launch nationwide strike action

Teachers and education professionals are set to engage in an indefinite strike on Thursday. The action is being called by the Colombian Federation of Education Workers (Fecode) which demands the payment of benefits and salary adjustments. The move comes after no significant progress was made in negotiations with the ministry of education initiated in late-February. A march has been called in the capital, Bogota, on Tuesday 16 May, where teachers nationwide are expected to attend.

FARC and ELN leadership meet in Havana, Cuba

Leaders of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) met in Havana, Cuba, to discuss government-backed peace talks. The meeting was authorised by Colombian and international authorities. Both the FARC and the ELN engaged in talks with the Colombian government. Despite peace efforts, ELN militants remain highly active in the country's north-west.

Clan del Golfo kills police officer in Choco

A police officer has been killed in fresh attacks targeting security forces in Choco department, north-western Colombia. Edwin Jackson Mosquera was assassinated near the Pie de Pepe area on Monday afternoon by presumed members of the criminal Clan del Golfo. This is the second police officer killed in Colombia in less than 24 hours. So far in 2017, Clan del Golfo has been blamed for the deaths of more than a dozen police officers.

Eight people feared kidnapped in Novita, Choco

Eight people are feared kidnapped by presumed National Liberation Army (ELN) militants stationed in Choco, north-western Colombia. Colombian authorities launched investigations over the disappearance of eight workers in Novita. It remains unclear if the ELN is in fact linked to the abductions as members of paramilitary groups also widely operate in the region.

FARC dissident front kidnaps UN worker in Guaviare

A UN monitor has been kidnapped by presumed dissident members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Guaviare province, central Colombia. The victim was taken after being ambushed by armed men near Miraflores. Military and police sources told Reuters that the UN worker was part of a team dedicated to a project aimed at eradicating illegal crops nationwide. Despite ongoing peace agreements with the FARC and other groups, dissident guerrilla fronts still remain highly active across Colombia.

FARC dissident front weapons cache seized in Meta

The Colombian Army seized on Wednesday a weapons cache from a dissident FARC front opposed to the peace deal. The faction was stationed in Vista Hermosa, central Colombia's Meta department. Official sources believe that the weapons would be used on recruitment and to engage in criminal activity. Despite the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government reached a peace agreement, some fronts refused to accept the deal. 

ELN member arrested over links to 1999 Avianca flight hijack

A National Liberation Army (ELN) member linked to the April 1999 Avianca flight hijacking has been arrested on Monday. Judicial authorities revealed that Saavedra Benavides, also known as 'Dario Jesus Ramirez Castro' was the leader of an ELN front in Bolivar, northern Colombia. Castro is blamed for the kidnapping of 40 people after the hijack of the 9463 flight between Bucaramanga and Bogota, and also targeting security forces and other kidnappings in southern Bolivar.

Three killed in chemical factory blast, Cundinamarca

Three people have been killed and 10 others have been injured in an explosion at a clandestine chemical factory in Cundinamarca. The accident happened in the Soacha area, where local and Bogota fire brigades were deployed to isolate the area. Authorities believe that the blast was triggered by a potential reaction of chemical materials and potassium nitrate. Residents had previously complained to the local council over the risks involving the building due to the handling of hazardous material.

Eight killed in military plane crash in Cundinamarca

President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Tuesday that eight people have been killed in a military plane crash in Cundinamarca, central Colombia. The aircraft crashed due to undisclosed reasons into the El Manjui hill, located between Facatativa and Zipacon. According to local authorities, the plane was flying from Bogota's Guaymaral airbase to Tolemaida. 

One killed in ELN car bomb attack in Pailitas, Cesar

One person was killed and three others injured when a car bomb went off on Sunday morning in Cesar, northern Colombia. According to the police, the attack was led by members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) after they were stopped at a police checkpoint in Pailitas. The group is currently engaged in peace negotiations with the Colombian government and has not yet claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Over a dozen Clan del Golfo members detained in Caceres, Antioquia

The Colombian Army arrested 15 members of the Clan del Golfo involved in illegal mining activities in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. The detention took place in Caceres as part of the Plan Victoria operation, which so far arrested 102 people in Colombia due to involvement in illegal mining activities. Illegal mining is one of the main income sources of criminal and paramilitary groups around Colombia.

Ministry confirms Venezuelan soldiers asylum request

The ministry of foreign affairs revealed on Friday that three Venezuelan soldiers requested asylum in Colombia. The soldiers published a video in mid-April after being accused by the government of desertion. Furthermore, the ministry revealed that several others also urged the American States Organization (OEA) support to address Nicolas Maduro's alleged abuses. So far, more than 200 Venezuelans requested asylum in Colombia due to Venezuela's current economic and political turmoil.

At least five killed in building collapse in Cartagena

At least five people were killed and 30 others injured when a building under construction collapsed in Cartagena, northern Colombia. Emergency services and workers' family members rushed to the scene to assist in the searches. Local authorities revealed that the construction was licensed and that an investigation was launched to assess the cause of the accident.

Congress allows FARC to form political party

The Colombian congress approved on Wednesday the attribution of seats to demobilised FARC guerillas in the Senate and House of Representatives. According to the agreement, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will be granted five seats in both houses between 2018 and 2026. However, the bill will need UN approval over guarantees of full disarmament, which, according to President Juan Manuel Santos, is expected to be concluded next month.

ELN launches fresh pipeline attack in Norte de Santander

More than 1,000 people have been without drinking water after the Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline was attacked by suspected National Liberation Army (ELN) militants in Norte de Santander, north-western Colombia. The incident happened on Thursday in El Carmen, near the Venezuelan border, where crude oil contaminated a local water source in Cimittarra creek. The Cano Limon-Covenas was previously the target of successive attacks from the ELN, which are currently holding peace talks with the government.

Massive Clan del Golfo weapons cache seized in Cordoba

Colombian security forces seized a massive cache of firearms from the subversive Clan del Golfo in Cordoba, north-western Colombia. Among the equipment seized were grenade launchers, mortars, high-caliber weapons and thousands of ammunition. The Clan del Golfo is a highly active criminal group that operates around Cordoba and Uraba. According to the military, this was the most major weapons seizure reported so far in 2017.

ELN releases hostages to the Red Cross in Choco

Two hostages have been released by the National Liberation Army (ELN) amid renewed efforts regarding government-led peace talks with the guerrilla group. Both victims were kidnapped in mid-March in the Pereira department and were released nearly two months later to the Red Cross in Choco, south-western Colombia. Despite peace talks, ELN militias remain active across Colombia. 

FARC kidnaps five foreign nationals in Vaupes

Five foreign nationals have been kidnapped by alleged members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The US Embassy in Bogota confirmed on Sunday that three American nationals were among the victims. Another victim, a French national, said that they were taken to a camp to confirm their identity and released days later after seizing their navigation equipment.  According to the Police, the men were abducted while practising extreme sports in the Jirijirimo Waterfall along the Apaporis river in Vaupes department, south-eastern Colombia.

Russian hostage kidnapped in Choco flees ELN camp

A Russian-Armenian hostage fled captivity after injuring five National Liberation Army (ELN) militias. The ELN, which was already negotiating with the Russian Embassy, revealed that Voskanya Arcen Levoni overcame his guards while being transferred. Levoni was a suspected wildlife trafficker and was abducted in north-western Colombia's Choco region six months ago. Despite ELN peace negotiations with the government, attacks targeting security forces and kidnappings recurrently happen across Colombia.

Businessman linked to defunct Medellin Cartel assassinated

Armed men raided a petrol station to assassinate Jose Antonio Ocampo Obando - a businessman previously linked to the defunct Medellin Cartel. The 78-year-old victim was shot dead while refuelling his pick-up truck in Las Palmas area. The motives for the attack remain unknown. Ocampo was known for his links to Pablo Escobar and his criminal enterprise as the owner of a famous nightclub in Medellin during the 1980s.

Minor strangled to death in Medellin

A 15-year-old girl has been strangled to death in Medellin, western Colombia. The victim was killed at her home in Aranjuez neighbourhood due to alleged revenge motives by her sister's ex-partner, who was arrested moments later. Several protests across Latin American countries were triggered due to the high levels of homicides linked to gender-based violence. The incident came one day before a woman and two children were killed by her ex-partner in El Pesebre neighbourhood.

Landmine blast injures two peasants in Concepcion, Antioquia

Two peasants were injured on Saturday by a landmine blast in Concepcion, Antioquia. Local authorities told El Colombiano that both were looking after their cattle and horses when they found the device - which was placed inside an abandoned house. Active landmines are still present in conflict areas. Concepcion is one of the cities under a government-led humanitarian effort to disable anti-personal mines nationwide.

Colombian army seizes FARC explosives in Puntumayo

The Colombian Army recovered a massive cache of weapons and explosives around the rural area of Puerto Leguizamo in Puntumayo department, south-western Colombia. In a statement released on Thursday, Defence Minister Luis Carlos Villegas revealed that dozens of rifles, landmines and detonators were recovered during the operation. The cache is believed to belong to FARC's Front 48. The finding comes weeks after 600 mortar grenades were seized in Tumano, Narino.

Former FARC guerrilla murdered in Tumaco, Narino

A former FARC combatant was killed by a suspected drug trafficker in Narino, south-western Colombia. Luis Alberto Ortiz, who was released from prison under the FARC amnesty agreement, was killed on Sunday at his residence in Tumaco. The FARC condemned the attack and blamed the Colombian government for allowing drug traffickers and paramilitary groups to take over former guerrilla strongholds.

Local authority confirms eight abductions by paramilitary in Choco

Local authorities in north-western Colombia's Choco department confirmed that eight people were kidnapped in less than a week, reportedly by the paramilitary group Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC). Most of the victims are believed to be from indigenous communities. The AGC and other paramilitary groups are blamed for taking over the territorial vacuum left by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) amid the government-backed peace process.

Student shot in the head at bus station in Bogota

A 22-year-old university student has been severely injured after being shot in the head in Bogota. The victim was at a Transmilenio bus station when she was a target of a presumed robbery attempt. She was rushed to a local hospital, while the authorities are investigating the station's security footage.

At least 17 killed in Manizales landslides, Caldas

At least 17 people were killed and several others remain missing due to floodings and landslides in Manizales, central Colombia's Caldas department. A month's worth of rain fell overnight on Tuesday, destroying over 50 houses and blocking several roads. Classes and public services were suspended as rescue services rushed to the scene. The incident comes just weeks after hundreds were killed due to landslides in Mocoa, Putumayo.

Scores injured in nightclub grenade attack in Valle del Cauca

At least 36 people have been injured in a nightclub grenade attack in Valle del Cauca, western Colombia. The attack happened on Saturday evening in San Pedro, where witnesses told local news that the device exploded inside the building. The police launched an investigation to assess if the attack was targeted at the club's owners or related to local drug-trafficking groups.

Soldiers ambushed by ELN militants in Cauca

A Colombian soldier has been killed during a National Liberation Army (ELN) incursion in Cauca, south-western Colombia. In a communique, the Colombian Army revealed that the attack happened overnight on Thursday in Caloto, where another soldier was injured. The ELN and the government have been holding peace talks since February. The government chief negotiator to the ELN, Juan Camilo Restrepo, condemned the attack.

Red alert declared over potential landslides in Antioquia

A red alert has been declared in Colombia's north-western department of Antioquia, over the high risk of landslides. Local authorities have urged residents of the coastal areas of San Juan de Uruba and Arboletes to remain on alert. The warning also includes La Estrella, La Trinidad and other nearby communities due to potential flooding and mudslides. President Juan Manuel Santos urged Colombian governors to employ emergency measures ahead of heavy downpours expected to hit the whole country in the coming days. 

Police storm mall following domestic standoff in Bogota

Police special forces stormed Bogota's Santa Fe Mall during a standoff on Monday. The incident involved a domestic dispute where a 40-year-old woman was chased through the mall - where she worked at an opticians - and was shot dead by her ex-husband. The police killed the perpetrator after he prevented the victim's rescue. Increasing cases of gender-based violence triggered widespread protests across Latin America, while in Colombia a high number of incidents have been recently reported.

Colombian army seizes ELN explosives cache in Arauca

Colombian Army soldiers located and seized at least eight improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Arauca and Cesar department, northern Colombia. The IEDs are believed to belong to a National Liberation Army (ELN) front based in Arauquita. Despite holding talks with the Colombian government, the ELN still continue to use explosives against security forces in northern Colombia.

Three children feared kidnapped by paramilitary in Choco

Judicial authorities revealed on Tuesday that a teacher and three children were kidnapped in Bajo Baudo, an indigenous community in Choco department, western Colombia. Initial reports suggest that they were taken on Saturday when heading to the Jovi river. The community blames the abduction on the paramilitary group Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC), which is suspected of holding a strong presence in the region along with other armed groups.

One killed and three injured in landslide in Puerto Caldas, Risaralda

A one-month-old baby has died and three people have been injured after a landslide destroyed two houses in Risaralda department, western Colombia. The residences located in Puerto Caldas, near Cartago, were completely destroyed by a massive rock overnight on Monday. The incident comes just days after hundreds of people were killed in a landslide in Mocoa.

FARC weapons registry nearly completed

International observers revealed on Monday that the United National Mission in Colombia has almost completed FARC guerillas arms registry. In total, around 7,000 weapons were registered and identified in camps fully monitored by the UN. The disarmament process started in March, when thousands of FARC members were allocated to demobilisation zones across Colombia.

Soldiers ambushed by militants in El Retorno, Guaviare

A Colombian soldier was killed and three others injured during an ambush in Guaviare, central Colombia. The military was attacked with explosives while in their vehicle in the countryside of El Retorno. Preliminary investigations suggest the raid was ordered by a local dissident front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) led by Gentil Duarte, or 'John 40'. 

EPL raids police station in Sardinata, Norte de Santander

Members of the People's Liberation Army (EPL) raided a police station on Saturday in Norte de Santander, northern Colombia. Local media revealed that shots were fired and explosives detonated against a police station in Sardinata. No casualties were reported, but several nearby residents were also affected by the blast. The EPL is a group dedicated to drug-trafficking, kidnapping and extortion mainly in the Catatumbo area, where it is often involved in attacks targeting security forces.

President declares emergency following Mocoa landslides

As the first victims of the Mocoa landslides were buried, President Juan Manuel Santos declared a state of emergency to the south-western Colombian town. Humanitarian assistance is being delivered to the area along with additional funding to rebuild the community. The emergency was declared to speed-up aid operations, while thousands remain without running water and electricity.

Airstrike kills eight ELN members in Norte de Santander

An airstrike carried out by the Colombian Air Force has led to the death of eight National Liberation Army (ELN) militants in Norte de Santander, northern Colombia. The air raid targeted ELN positions in Potrero Grande area of El Carmen - where a number of weapons, landmines and ammunition were seized. The criminals were part of an ELN front responsible for attacks against security forces in the region.

Thousands protest nationwide against the government

More than 20,000 people took over the streets of Bogota to protest against President Juan Manuel Santos. The march - endorsed by the opposition and senator Alvaro Uribe Velez - demanded that Santos step down from office. Demonstrations also took place across the country, including Cali and Medellin. Protesters also raised concerns over the Odebrecht corruption scandal in Santos's presidential campaign in 2010 and 2014.

Death toll rises in Colombia landslides

Colombian officials confirmed that 254 people were killed by the landslides in the early hours of Saturday in Mocoa, south-western Colombia's Putumayo province. Hundreds are still injured while more than 1,000 soldiers were deployed to assist in the searches. The area remains without running water and electricity. President Juan Manuel Santos announced that reconstruction may last up to a year.

Scores killed in Colombia landslides

At least 112 people have been killed and dozens more wounded by landslides in south-west Colombia. Heavy rains caused rivers to burst their banks in Putumayo province, leaving the provincial capital Mocoa without electricity and water.  President Juan Manuel Santos travelled to the area on Saturday and told reporters: "My heart and the hearts of all Colombians are with the victims of this tragedy."

ELN announces humanitarian demining agreement

The National Liberation Army (ELN) announced on Thursday plans to join the government on humanitarian demining missions in Colombia. ELN's chief negotiator Pablo Beltran said that the measure will aim to reduce the conflict's intensity and pave the way to further agreements. Despite previous demining efforts, landmines remain active in several departments across Colombia. The ELN has been holding peace talks with the government since February in Quito, Ecuador

Venezuelan ambassador summoned over political concerns

The government has summoned the Venezuelan ambassador a day after the Venezuelan Supreme Court ruled to strip the parliament's legislative power. According to Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, the call comes to assess further government actions. Concerns were also raised by other Latin American countries. Peru ordered the recall of its ambassador to Venezuela, while Mexico also raised concerns.

Student stabbed to death in Pamplona, Norte de Santander

A 25-year-old university student has been stabbed to death during a robbery attempt in Norte de Santander, northern Colombia. The victim was walking on Tuesday evening across the Agueda Gallardo Park in Pamplona when five criminals approached him. Two criminals were arrested moments later.

Three soldiers injured by roadside bomb in Cauca

Three Colombian soldiers and a civilian were wounded when a roadside bomb went off in Cauca department, south-western Colombia. The attack happened on the road between Argelia and Balboa during a military patrol in the southern area of the region. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack; however, Cauca is known for causing many casualties generated by landmines.

Congress approves new vice-president nomination

The nomination of General Oscar Naranjo as Colombia's new vice-president was overwhelmingly supported by the Colombian congress. Naranjo was the former national police chief and is expected to focus on security issues, during a period where negotiations with militant groups are underway. Naranjo is replacing German Vargas Lleras, who is set to run for president in 2018.

Hundreds affected in heavy rains across Bogota

Hundreds of families have been affected as heavy downpours have hit the capital Bogota. The areas of most concern are Tunjuelito, Ciudad Bolivar and Engativa; where severe weather has triggered landslides across the region. Colombia's Prevention and Risk Management Institute (Idiger) is still assessing the risks while most of the capital remains under alert. Rains are likely to continue in April and May.

Man robbed by fake police officers in Bogota

A man has been robbed when presumed police officers approached his vehicle in Bogota. The incident happened on Saturday afternoon when two men posing as members of the police anti-kidnapping unit (Sijin) asked for the victim's documents in Normandia neighbourhood. Locals told Caracol that similar incidents in the neighbourhood are recurrent.

Two soldiers killed in ELN attack near Fortul, Arauca

Two Colombian soldiers have been killed and three others injured during an ambush in Arauca, north-eastern Colombia. The attack was led by National Liberation Army (ELN) members, who targeted a military escort in the Fortul area on Tuesday. Despite ongoing peace talks with the government, ELN's subversive fronts often target Colombian security forces.

Red alert declared over heavy rains in western Colombia

The Colombian departments of Antioquia, Valle del Cauca and Narino are under a red alert over the risk of floods triggered by local rivers and potential landslides. Authorities revealed that rains are likely to continue in April, while President Juan Manuel Santos urged local government officials to employ preventive mechanisms to avoid further disasters similar to previous years.

Former FARC rebels surrender to the army

A total of 117 former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels surrendered to the Colombian army in the Narino department on Monday.  The dissidents surrendered as part of the peace agreement between the FARC and the Colombian government.  Weapons and other military equipment were also handed over in the Humberto Manzi neighbourhood of Tumaco.

Civilians killed in ELN-AGC clashes

Five civilians have been killed in clashes between National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels and Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia (AGC) paramilitaries in the Choco department.  Attorney General, Néstor Martínez, said the violence in San Juan Litoral was linked to a territorial war for drug trafficking routes.  Martinez blamed ELN for the deaths, although the rebels and evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch (HRW) suggest that the AGC were responsible.  Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has strongly condemned the killings.

EPL-linked militant killed in Sardinata, Norte de Santander

One militant was killed and seven others arrested during a joint operation led by the Colombian Army and Air Force in Norte de Santander, northern Colombia. The operation was carried out in Sardinata, where weapons and explosives were also retrieved. All militants were members of the People's Liberation Army (EPL) cell known as 'Los Pelusos'. The group is responsible for a number of security forces killings in Catatumbo.

Cali Cartel member arrested in Facatativa, Cundinamarca

A joint operation led by Colombian authorities and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) led to the arrest of Orlando Sanchez Cristancho, a wanted Cali Cartel member. Sanchez was arrested in Facatativa, Cundinamarca and was wanted for nearly 20 years. He held previous money laundering and fraud convictions from a US court.

ELN incursion kills five villagers in Choco

At least five people have been killed and several others have been injured when armed men stormed a village in Choco department, north-western Colombia. The country's General Prosecutor blamed the attack on members of the National Liberation Army (ELN). According to Colombian authorities, seven ELN members raided San Juan de Decordo. The attack happened as the government and ELN militias are negotiating a peace deal in Quito, Ecuador.

Senior ELN militant killed in joint operation in Bolivar

A senior leader of the National Liberation Army (ELN) has been shot dead in Bolivar, northern Colombia. The assailant - also known as 'Jairo' - was shot dead during an operation led by the Colombian armed forces and the police in Santa Rosa. 'Jairo' was an extortionist in Antioquia and also an explosive and shooting trainer to ELN's Jose Antonio Galan front.

President condemns Venezuelan incursion into Colombia

President Juan Manuel Santos has strongly condemned the settlement of a Venezuelan military camp in the bordering department of Arauca. In a statement, Santos said that such moves are unacceptable and violate Colombian sovereignty. Dozens of foreign soldiers are believed to be in a camp in Arauquita. Santos ordered the deployment of the Colombian military while demanding Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro order his troops' withdrawal. 

Police crackdown detains dozens in Antioquia

A police crackdown led by a special intelligence detachment of the police led to the arrest of 43 people, suspected of being members of the  'Los Percherones' group. More than 600 police officers took part in the operation across Antioquia, western Colombia. The group was mainly known for its involvement in drug-trafficking activities and murder. Some members were known for previous involvement with the National Liberation Army (ELN) and paramilitary groups.

Anti-kidnapping officer shot dead in Yumbo, Cauca Valley

An off-duty officer has been assassinated by an armed assailant in Yumbo, Cauca Valley. The officer - part of the Colombian anti-kidnapping and extortion force in Buenaventura, was killed when leaving a disco overnight on Monday. The victim was taken to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds. The incident came just weeks after an extortionist member of the 'Los Tio Tia' gang, from Buenaventura, was arrested in Cali.

Wildfire spreads across Pasacaballos, Cartagena

A wildfire has spread near Cartagena, northern Colombia, when a group of people attempted to burn garbage from a vacant terrain. The incident happened on Saturday evening when the fire broke out and spread across the Pasacaballos area for more than four hours. Emergency services warned that more than 160 fires were already reported in Cartagena, mostly caused by reckless behaviour. 

Guerrilla kills police chief in Norte de Santander

The police's criminal investigation unit (Sijin) chief was gunned down by armed criminals in Norte de Santander, northern Colombia. The victim was ambushed on the road between Betania and La Gabarra, near Tiby, by presumed members of the 'Los Pelusos' - a splinter group part of the People's Liberation Army (EPL). He was one of the masterminds on the task force targeting the group, which recently had its main leader arrested. 

Senior ELN member killed by military in Bolivar

A National Liberation Army (ELN) senior member has been shot dead during a military operation in Bolivar, northern Colombia. The operation happened in San Pablo when Colombian special forces raided a camp discovered thorough police intelligence. Pablo Arredondo, also known as 'Erik', was the local ELN commander responsible for a number of attacks to security forces and extortion targeting local miners.

Senate approves new special peace court

The Colombian Senate approved on Monday the creation of a special tribunal to prosecute FARC members involved in serious crimes. After an eight-hour debate, the Special Peace Jurisdiction (JEP) was approved by an overwhelming majority. The JEP comes as part of the transitional justice arrangements to the peace process with the guerrilla group, aiming to speed up the process of crimes such as kidnapping, extortion and forced disappearances. 

One killed during military crackdown in Norte de Santander

One person has been killed and two others have been injured during a military crackdown on fuel traffickers in Norte de Santander, northern Colombia. Military sources said that an operation was launched to tackle criminals trafficking oil from the Cano Limon-Covenas pipeline, which is often attacked by subversive groups. The target were members of the People's Liberation Army (EPL) cell known as 'Los Pelusos' that attacked an army base in Oru.

Criminal gang leader arrested in Magdalena

The leader of the "Los Canarios" gang has been arrested in the El Carmen neighbourhood of Cienaga in Magdalena department.  Harbey Segundo Hincapié Maestre, alias Joyo, is accused of leading a group that carried out a series of armed robberies and assaults against foreign nationals, including the sexual assault of a US citizen on 17 February.

ELN blamed for attack on Cubará-Saravena road

One person has been wounded in a suspected National Liberation Army (ELN) attack in Arauca department.  Gunmen opened fire on a fuel tanker on the Cubará-Saravena road on Saturday afternoon, injuring the driver.  The army dispatched military helicopters to the area to locate the assailants.

Warning over social leader killings

Colombia's ombudsman's office has issued a warning over the safety of activists and social leaders in the country.  Representative Carlos Negret said between January 2016 and February 2017 120 social leaders were murdered and 33 wounded in attacks across the country.  Negret called on the Colombian authorities to increase protection for vulnerable groups, while the office will release a report later this month which will outline its suggestions.

Indigenous leader assassinated in Medellin, Antioquia

An indigenous leader was assassinated on Thursday morning by masked men in Medellin, northern Colombia. The victim, 32-year-old Ruth Alicia Lopez Guisao, who was shot eight times in a shop in the Olaya Herrera sector. Colombian authorities are investigating if the motives of the attack were related to her agrarian projects in the neighbouring Choco department. Since the start of 2017, 20 social and rights leader have been killed across Colombia. 

Syndicate members clash with police in Cartagena, Bolivar

Clashes between members of the Worker's Syndicate Union (USO) and police officers took place in Bolivar, northern Colombia. USO syndicate leaders headed to Reficar (Cartagena Refinery) headquarters in Mamonal area on Tuesday afternoon but were allegedly stopped from entering the building. Demonstrators told El Heraldo that they were there to present workers' complaints that were largely unaddressed. 

Cartel-linked gang dismantled in Narino department

A joint operation led by Colombian authorities and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) dismantled a criminal gang linked to Mexican cartels. A dozen members were detained in Narino, Cauca and Valle del Cauca department. According to El Pais, the group had its base in Tumaco - a former stronghold of the FARC - near the Ecuadorian border, and exported up to eight tonnes of cocaine monthly thorough the Pacific smuggling routes.

Government and ELN to meet with Catholic Church in Quito, Ecuador

The Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) are set to meet on Friday with a Catholic Church delegation in Quito - where peace talks are being officially held since February. Juan Camilo Restrepo told El Colombiano that the 'voice of the Church is key' - ELN's origins are deeply connected to militants beliefs on Catholicism. The meeting comes after the ELN claimed responsibility for two bombings in Bogota and Villavicencio in mid-February.

ELN senior militant captured in military crackdown in Antioquia

Security forces captured a senior National Liberation Army (ELN) militant after raiding an insurgent stronghold in Antioquia, central Colombia. The militant known as 'Yeison' was the third in command to ELN's Guamuco Resistance in El Bagre, which was mainly connected to drug-trafficking. The crackdown comes just days after the ELN claimed responsibility for the Bogota bombing on 19 February.

FARC members to initiate disarmament process

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is set to initiate its disarmament process days after more than 7,000 militia members joined demobilisation zones across Colombia. The country's High Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo told Reuters that: "It's the start of the process of disarmament, which involves the registration of weapons, the destruction of unstable weapons and the storage of side arms". President Juan Manuel dos Santos expects the process to last until June. 

Peasants' representative killed in Cauca department

A representative for the peasant's reserve in Corinto has been assassinated in Cauca department, south-western Colombia. Eder Cuetia Conda was killed on Sunday morning near a nightclub in the department's northern area when armed men on a motorcycle opened fire on him. Conda was also a member of the left-wing Patriotic March movement. This is the second death in less than a week involving a representative from the Corinto municipality.

ELN confirms responsibility for Bogota bomb attack

The National Liberation Army (ELN) claimed responsibility for the bomb attack on Sunday 19 February in Bogota, where a police officer was killed and more than 40 people were injured. Through its Twitter account, the group confirmed that the bomb was planted near the Plaza Santamaria bullring by one of their cells. The announcement came at the same time the group confirmed their responsibility for another bomb attack targeting the military in Meta department.

ELN claims responsibility for attack on military in Meta

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has claimed responsibility for the attack against Colombian military positions in Villavicencio, Meta department, on 14 February, where four soldiers were injured. The announcement was made through the militia's Twitter account. Government officials condemned the attack and blamed the group of hindering the peace process.

Police arrest suspects of targeting tourists in Santa Marta, Magdalena

Colombian authorities arrested three suspects of robbing a group of tourists in Santa Marta, northern Colombia. A joint operation led by the National Police and the Prosecutor General's Office led to nine raids in the area around Taganga beach. The operation comes amid investigations after a dozen European and Colombian tourists were attacked by armed men. 

Thousands affected by flooding and landslides in Huila

Thousands were affected after a heavy downpour spread destruction to several districts in Huila, western Colombia. Campoalegre, Rivera and Hobo were the areas most affected, where thousands remain trapped as roads were blocked by flooding and landslides. The incident comes as at least five people were reported missing after mudslides in the neighbouring Cundinamarca department.

Students robbed at gunpoint in Barranquilla

Six university students have been robbed in a car park in Barranquilla's metropolitan area, northern Colombia. Preliminary reports revealed that the victims were targeted on Saturday afternoon when an armed man approached them in Puerto Colombia. Witnesses told local media that more criminals were also involved in the robbery that took their computers and mobile phones. The incident came on the same day as 10 people were attacked by two armed robbers in an Italian patisserie in the Bella Vista neighbourhood.

Three killed and several injured during shootout in Medellin, Antioquia

A police officer and a civilian have been killed during a shootout in Medellin, north-western Colombia. According to local news, the police headed to San Antonio neighbourhood to respond to a call, when criminals opened fire on the officers. Three residents were also injured and rushed to the hospital, while a 27-year-old assailant died. Local authorities announced that an emergency meeting will take place in order to address the recent wave of criminality reported across Medellin. 

Two police officers injured in grenade attack in Cesar

Two police officers were injured in a grenade attack in the Cesar department, northern Colombia. Both officers were heading to the Jardin neighbourhood in Paillitas in response to a call when they were attacked by presumed members of the National Liberation Army (ELN). Despite peace talks between the ELN and the government, the guerrilla movement increased its presence in northern Colombia in late-2016 carrying out successive attacks to security forces.

Scores injured in bullring explosion in Bogota

At least 40 people were injured in a strong explosion in central Bogota on Sunday. The incident happened as hundreds were set to protest against the reinstatement of bullfight rings in Colombia. According to the BBC, most of the victims were police officers gathered near La Santamaria bullring awaiting the demonstrators. It remains unclear if the attack was connected to the protest. In January, Bogota has suffered a wave of violent protests against bullfights, which were recently considered by the government as a national heritage.

Mayor's father kidnapped in Catatumbo, Norte de Santander

The father of the mayor of El Carmen has been reported kidnapped in Catatumbo in Norte de Santander, northern Colombia.The 66-year-old victim was abducted on a road between Guamalito and La Mata. The incident comes days after the government announced a military reinforcement to the area of Catatumbo, which has been haunted by a wave of violence led by suspected splinter militia groups.

Four Colombian soldiers injured in grenade attack in Meta

Four Colombian soldiers were severely injured when targeted by criminals in Meta department, central Colombia. The incident was reported on Tuesday evening on the road between Bogota and Villavicencio. Preliminary investigations revealed the soldiers were targeted while on patrol when assailants on a motorcycle open fire. No one has been arrested so far, and the military and local authorities have launched a full investigation.

Thousands protest over water supply in Magdalena

Thousands of protesters - backed by several civilian organisations - have marched on the streets of the Magdalena department, northern Colombia. The demonstration took place on Tuesday in Santa Marta, where residents demanded better conditions in road and water services. The complaint regards the discontinued water supply to several areas, including touristic resorts along the Caribbean coast. The march comes as the government is set to change its main water management company by April.

Government to reinforce military presence in Norte de Santander

The Colombian government announced the deployment of additional military personnel to Norte de Santander, northern Colombia, over the strong presence of National Liberation Army (ELN) militants and paramilitary soldiers. The statement was released on Tuesday by the defence ministry - which said 2,200 additional soldiers will complete the military contingent stationed along the Venezuelan border, especially in Catatumbo. The move comes in order to reinforce security presence in the area amid peace negotiations with the country's insurgent groups.

Five children killed as fire consumes house in Bolivar

One man and five children have been killed after a massive fire broke out at a house in Bolivar, northern Colombia. The incident was reported in the El Campo sector of El Penon in the early hours of Sunday morning. Authorities are following two lines of investigation, where initial reports suggest an electrical malfunction or a potential criminal involvement.

Rights activist targeted by criminal gang in Medellin

A renewed attack targeting Human Rights activists took place in Medellin, north-western Colombia. Yudy Andrea Seguro and her 11-year-old daughter were injured when presumed members of the 'Los Chivos' gang opened fire at her home in Altavista area on Sunday evening. The incident comes after an alert was issued to Human Rights activists in Medellin over threats posed by local criminal gangs.

Armed men raid passenger bus in Bogota

Eight people have been robbed after armed men raided a passenger bus in Bogota. The incident was reported in the Rafael Uribe Uribe area where four masked men threatened passengers and demanded their belongings. According to the police, all of the criminals were later captured. Colombian police have been systematically reinforcing security on public transport across Bogota due to a series of robberies.

Emergency services on alert over wildfires in central Colombia

Emergency services are on alert over potential incidents involving wildfires across central Colombia. Response units from several fire brigades and the military are stationed across the country in order to control and prevent any major outbreaks. According to El Pais, there are six fires still active in multiple locations in Antioquia, Cundinamarca, Boyaca and Valle del Cauca. 

Dozens affected as massive fire breaks out in Caldas

A massive fire broke out on Wednesday evening in a neighbourhood in Caldas, central Colombia. At least 19 houses were destroyed and 25 families affected by the blazes. Initial reports state that three people were killed and four were severely injured by the blazes and smoke. The authorities continue to investigate the cause of the fire.

Wildfire reported at Quintasol Hill in Antioquia

Dozens of firefighters in Antioquia, northern Colombia, rushed to Quintasol Hill in Bello municipality to put out a wildfire which burnt for more than 20 hours. The Department of Disasters and Risk Management (Depard) revealed that at least 50 hectares of land were consumed by the flames that started on Wednesday morning. No evacuations were ordered as the flames did not affect residential areas. According to the authorities, the fire was intentional and caused by reckless behaviour.

Presidential campaign implicated in bribery scheme

Colombia's Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez announced on Wednesday that a line of investigation was opened after allegations that President Juan Manuel Santos's electoral campaign received bribes from a corruption scheme involving the construction company Odebrecht. The allegations came after Liberal Party's former congressman Otto Bula was arrested under suspicion of receiving US$4.6 million in bribes. He denied allegations that a former senator received US$1 million to finance Santos's 2014 re-election bid.

ELN and government resume peace talks in Quito, Ecuador

Negotiations between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Colombian government resumed on Tuesday in Quito, Ecuador. The formal negotiations are being closely watched by Ecuador, Norway, Cuba and Venezuela and are set to establish initial groups for reintroducing guerrilla members into civil society. The beginning of formal negotiations comes at the same moment the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) completed their mobilisation of concentration zones across Colombia as part of their final peace agreement.

Wildfire alert issued to central and northern Colombia

Colombia's meteorological authority - Ideam - has warned several departments in Colombia of the possibility of wildfires during the dry season. A red alert was issued to most northern and central Colombian departments, especially to Cundinamarca, Santander, Magdalena and Boyaca. The alert also concerns a cold wind stream which is predicted to hit some municipalities in Boyaca that are likely bring freezing temperatures. Special concern is advised to national and natural parks in departments under alert.

Three engineers kidnapped in Norte de Santander

Three engineers were reportedly kidnapped in Norte de Santander, northern Colombia. The victims were taken on Tuesday in the city of Sardinata while inspecting the construction of a police station in the Las Mercedes neighbourhood. The restive region of Norte de Santander is prone to kidnapping carried out mainly by militia groups such as the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the People's Liberation Army (EPL).

Clan del Golfo senior member killed in Cordoba

An operation carried out by the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (Dijin) led to the death of a senior members of the Clan del Golfo group in Cordoba, north-western Colombia. Also, two police officers were killed in the operation. The 34-year-old criminal known as 'Cobra 02' was wanted for crimes linked to extortion and homicide across the department's southern region. He was on the Colombian most wanted list as the government was offering a reward up to 150 million Colombian pesos (US$42,000) for information leading to his capture.

ELN releases soldier in Arauca ahead of peace talks

As peace talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) are set to resume, the group has released a Colombian soldier in the Arauca province, north-eastern Colombia. The soldier - after being held for nearly two weeks - was handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross in the region. The move comes as an apparent progress in the peace talks - which already led to the release of former Colombian congressman Odin Sanchez last Thursday.

Earthquake with 5.7-magnitude hits central Colombia

A 5.7-magnitude earthquake was reported in central Colombia on Monday morning. According to the Colombian Geological Service, the epicentre was located in the Huila department and affected a large area around Cali and Bogota. Despite the intensity of the quake, no casualties or damage were reported.

ELN releases congressman ahead of peace talks

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has released the former congressman Odin Sanchez, held by the group for nearly 10 months. The release of Sanchez was succeeded by the government release of two ELN members held in Santander, northern Colombia. The exchange comes as the preliminary conditions to resume peace talks on Tuesday 07 February. Despite Sanchez's release, the minister of defence has demanded that the ELN free the Colombian soldier recently kidnapped in Arauca, raising concerns over the future of the negotiations.

Brazilian border reinforced over FARC guerillas recruitment by criminals

Officials stated on Tuesday that the Colombian and Brazilian government are working together to tackle organised criminals recruiting renegaded members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which are currently under a demobilisation process. Border control has been reinforced with the additional deployment of military and police personnel. Both ministers of defence met in Manaus, Amazonas state, on Tuesday to discuss further security cooperation. The Colombian government expects that over 6,000 FARC members will not adhere to the plan.

Soldier killed during ELN attack to oil-pipeline in Norte de Santander

A Colombian soldier has been killed and two others injured amid clashes with suspected militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Norte de Santander, northern Colombia. According to an announcement made by the task force 'Vulcano', the incident happened on Monday evening as members of ELN's Capitan Francisco Bossio Company clashed with soldiers patrolling the Cano-Limon oil-pipeline, located near El Carmen municipality. The incident comes days after at least seven attacks targeting the infrastructure were confirmed in Arauquita and Teorema.

Colombian soldier kidnapped by ELN in Arauca

The National Liberation Army (ELN) confirmed through a communique on Tuesday the kidnapping of a Colombian soldier in Arauca, north-eastern Colombia. According to the document, 39-year-old Fredy Ernesto Moreno Mahecha was taken after "carrying out espionage in Arauquita". Moreno Mahecha had been missing since 24 January and remains under ELN captivity. The ELN is currently holding talks with the Colombian government which is set to resume on 07 February.

Low intensity earthquake reported in Santander

A 4.1-magnitude quake has been reported in northern Colombia's Santander department. According to the Colombian Geological Service, the quake was recorded near Simacota village. Despite no casualties being reported, the quake was felt in Bucaramanga, Pamplona and Floridablanca. Santander is a highly seismic area in Colombia, especially in the areas of Los Santos and Zapatoca.

High Commissioner announces conclusion for FARC guerrillas march

The High Commissioner for Peace in Colombia announced on Monday that the last march of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas to concentration zones is set to be concluded on the next few days. In total there are 4,500 militants and children from Cauca, Narino, Meta, Putumayo and Antioquia, that are also being closely monitored by the UN. The move comes after the FARC agreed to handover their weapons in exchange of introduction to civil life.

Key hostage held by ELN set to be released ahead peace negotiations

The Colombian government said on Wednesday that the release of the former senator held by the National Liberation Army (ELN), Odin Sanchez, is due on the weekend. Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas told Radio Nacional that: "The protocol for his release has been initiated, (...) I hope Mr. Sanchez's release will be completed quickly this weekend". The deal comes as part of the planned negotiations between the ELN and the government scheduled for Tuesday 07 February. Odin Sanchez has been held by the ELN since April, 2016.

Woman killed during violent burglary attempt in Cali

A 38-year-old shopkeeper has been killed in the early hours of Friday morning amid a burglary attempt in Cali, western Colombia. According to the police, the victim's residence in El Refugio neighbourhood was raided by five criminals posing as officers of the military anti-kidnapping unit, Gaula. A shootout was triggered and the woman was shot in the chest. Authorities are investigating the attack which may be connected to another violent burglary case which happened days before in the Ciudad Jardin area.

ELN prepared to call ceasefire ahead of peace negotiations

The National Liberation Army (ELN) chief negotiator, Aureliano Carbonell, has told Reuters that the group is willing to engage in a ceasefire ahead of formal negotiations scheduled for Tuesday 07 February. Carbonell said that "we are willing to have a bilateral ceasefire from the beginning. (...) That would help create another climate to the peace process; send the nation a positive message." The ELN and the government resumed peace talks on Friday 13 January following a nearly three-year-long deadlock and consecutive attacks targeting security forces.

Major oil pipeline attacked multiple times in Norte de Santander

The Colombian oil-giant Ecopetrol has registered at least seven attacks to its Caño-Limón pipeline in Norte de Santander. According to the company, all the attacks took place on the town of Araquita in Arauca and Teorama. Also, it stated that in a routine patrol, it discovered several illegal extraction pipes which have led to the contamination of water sources and terrains in the Catatumbo area. In 2016, at least 43 attacks were reported on the pipeline and 33 alien valves were found along the departments of Arauca, Boyacá, Cesar and Santander.

Clan del Golfo chief accountant arrested in Antioquia

A joint operation led by the Colombian Navy and police has led to the arrest of a senior financial officer of the outlawed Clan del Golfo. José Luis Sierra Cabrales, also known as 'Chemita', was arrested in Nechí, northern Colombia's Antioquia department. Chemita is suspect of carrying out extortion and murders across Antioquia, Cordoba, Sucre and Bolivar, collecting up to COP$500 million monthly (US$ 170,000). This is the fourth major arrest made against Clan del Golfo in recent weeks.

Interior ministry confirms paramilitary take over of FARC's former zones

Colombia's ministry of interior has announced that paramilitary groups are taking over the areas left by guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). 'It has been identified as an advance of drug-trafficking structures of the Clan del Golfo to former FARC zones'. The FARC and the government are in the advanced stages of peace negotiations and have left a 'vacuum of power' in historical jungle areas - especially across central and southern Colombia - previously held by the FARC. The Clan del Golfo is the re-branded version of the Clan Úsuga, which is blamed for the deaths of more than a dozen social leaders in 2017.

FARC announces political party to be ready by late-May

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has announced that its political wing is being built and is expected to be launched in late-May, one year ahead of Colombia's next elections. FARC's negotiator, Iván Márquez, said that political arrangements such as portraying documents and party statutes are under development in their concentration zones across the country. The group previously stated that they do not intend to run for presidency, however they expect to have representation in Colombian politics amid the transitional government process.

Thousands affected as Cauca River overflows in Cali

Over 2,000 families have been affected by the overflowing of the Cauca River in western Colombia. The most affected area is the Juanchito area in Cali, along with the Puerto Nuevo and La Playita. The authorities have declared a state of public calamity as the river started to overflow in the early hours of Sunday morning, forcing residents to flee the affected areas. The increasing atmospheric levels triggered the river's water flow to nearly quadruple by 23 km.

Hundreds protest bullring reopening in Bogota

Over 30 people have been injured during an anti-bullfight protest in the capital Bogota. Hundreds of demonstrators stormed the Plaza de Toros la Santa María on Sunday afternoon, to protest against its reopening after four years. Two people were arrested as the police fired tear gas at the protesters.  The protest spread across the nearby roads where dozens of masked men blocked the traffic. Bullfights remain a controversial subject in Colombia. 'La Santamaria' was closed in 2012 by order of the city's mayor at the time, however the constitutional court ordered its reopening two years later.

Government and ELN agree to initiate formal peace negotiations

Amid the peace talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) both parts have reached an initial agreement to start peace negotiations. In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, both groups agreed on starting formal negotiations on 07 February in Quito, Ecuador. The communique was read by a representative of the host country that also enhanced the agreement on the ELN releasing former senator Odín Sánchez in late January. The ELN resumed peace talks on 13 January following several grievances regarding the release of hostages.

Rights activist found dead in jungle area, Cauca

A 31-year-old Human Rights leader and her husband have been found dead in Valle del Cauca, western Colombia. The body of Emilsen Mayoma and her husband were found with stabbing wounds in a jungle area of El Progresso neighbourhood in Buenaventura. Authorities believe that the incident was carried out over the weekend as the bodies were in the advanced stages of decomposition. Mayoma was the eader of the Red Conpaz and was an avid critic of Colombian paramilitary groups and drug-trafficking in the Bajo Colima area. The incident comes days after another Rights activist was killed near Cali.

Two militants captured in attempt to resume illegal mining in Antioquia

The Colombian Army have announced that two members of the subversive Clan del Golfo gang were captured in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. Both assailants were arrested amid alleged attempts to reactivate illegal mining operations in the city of Buriticá. Security sources revealed that several weapons, a cache of ammunition and other logistical material were also recovered. Illegal mining is a recurrent activity led by militant groups across Colombia, especially on jungle areas.

Ticket inspector stabbed to death at bus station in Bogota

A 22-year-old bus ticket inspector has been stabbed to death by a passenger in Bogota. The incident happened at the central Jiménez station, when a 30-year-old man stabbed Leonardo Licht to death after he demanded to see the suspects's ticket. Licht was taken to the local hospital, where moments later succumbed to his wounds. The murderer, already known by the police, was promptly arrested by security forces. According to El Tiempo, at least 210 cases of attack to transportation company's employees were reported in 2016.

Rights activist stabbed to death in Cauca department

A Human Rights activist has been stabbed to death in the Cauca department, eastern Colombia. The Nietos de Manuel Quintín Lame Landless Movement confirmed that Olmedo Pito García was killed when leaving a public building in Caloto. García was attacked by men armed with knives and was taken severely injured to the local hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds. The attack was thought unlikely to be a robbery. According to Rights groups, in 2016, 16 social leaders were killed in the Cauca department.

General Óscar Naranjo nominated as new VP

General Óscar Naranjo has been sworn in as Colombia's new VP. Naranjo replaced Germán Vargas Lleras who was set to abandon the post at the end of January, to run for office ahead of the 2018 presidential elections. President Juan Manuel Santos said that the nomination of Naranjo is not directly related with the ongoing negotiation with militia groups, but connected to his work on public safety expertise - Naranjo drafted a new police code to become valid from next week. 

Investigations into FARC clashes in Caquetá

The Regional Monitor and Verification Mechanism (MM&V) confirmed through a communique the investigations regarding a presumed clash between members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and one of its dissident fronts. According to the document, the clashes happened on the countryside of San Vicente de Caguán where two people were killed. The area is known for operations led by the FARC's Front 14 that also operate in other areas of Caquetá, southern Colombia. Currently FARC militants are heading towards mobilisation zones across the country in order to put down the arms under the peace deal agreement.

Police officer shot during police operation in Antioquia

A police officer has been shot during a routine inspection in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. The operation was being carried out in the early hours of Wednesday morning in the Alto de Misael neighbourhood in Envigado, when a taxi with two passengers was ordered to stop. One of the passengers opened fire on the officer who sustained severe injuries to the head. The officer has been taken to the local hospital's intensive care unit as the police continue to investigate the incident. Envigado, located near Medellin, is known for housing several criminal groups such as the violent Oficina de Envigado, widely connected to other street gangs.

Government and ELN resume talks in Ecuador

Members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Colombian government are set to resume peace talks on Thursday. The internationally backed talks will be hosted in Quito, Ecuador, and are expected to last for five days. The dialog between both parts was suspended due to a number of controversies, namely the refusal of the release of hostages held by the ELN and the consecutive attacks on security forces led by the group's subversive fronts.

A dozen killed after pedestrian bridge collapsed in Meta

Nearly a dozen people have been killed and several others have been injured as a pedestrian bridge has collapsed in the Meta department, central Colombia. The rope bridge was located in the Villavicencio city and was mainly used to go up a hill in the forest reserve of El Carmen. Local authorities have stated that the incident took place on Monday - a public holiday - and was caused due to excess weight. Residents told BBC that, despite the charges paid to use the passage, there was no control on the number of people over the bridge, which was conserved under poor conditions. 

Prominent rancher kidnapped in Huila department

A prominent Colombian rancher and his son have been kidnapped in the Huila department, central Colombia. The rancher, Héctor Javier Osorio, and his son were taken in the early hours of Saturday morning, when they were heading to thier estate in La Argentina. The incident was reported and confirmed after the victim's son was released on a road between La Plata and El Pital. According to the authorities, Osorio has previously been targeted by kidnappers. The police are investigating the incident and have launched search operations across the regional bordering areas of Huila and Cauca. Kidnappings in Colombia significantly decreased in recent years, however sporadic cases may be carried out by criminal groups detached from militias or paramilitary gangs.

Soldier gunned down by suspected ELN militants in Arauca

A Colombian soldier has been shot dead by two armed criminals in the Arauca department, north-eastern Colombia. The soldier had been carrying out a security service in the municipality of Pueblo Nuevo, when the criminals riding a motorcycle opened fire and fled the scene. According to the authorities, the assailants are suspected members of the subversive National Liberation Army (ELN). The incident happened one day before the ELN is scheduled to resume peace talks with the Colombian government in Quito, Ecuador. 

Kidnapped salesman released by ELN in La Guajira

The Colombian government chief negotiator to the National Liberation Army (ELN), Juan Camilo Restrepo, has confirmed the release of a salesman held hostage by the militia group. Octavio Figueroa has been released to his family in the Majayura municipality. Figueroa was abducted by armed men in April in the northern department of La Guajira. The ELN is set to resume talks with the Colombian government, however, one of the demands is the release of its hostages. The talks have been halted several times as the group refuses to release the politician Odín Sánchez, who has been held hostage since April.

ELN militant killed in clashes, Boyacá

Clashes between the Colombian Army and the militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN) have led to the death of one assailant in Boyacá, central Colombia. According to military sources, the incident took place on Tuesday in the rural area of Labranzagrande, where, besides the casualty, communication equipment and heavy weaponry were seized. The ELN and the Colombian government are set to initiate peace talks on 10 January in Ecuador. Since the announcement, some fronts of the ELN continue to carry out attacks targeting security forces across Colombia.

Five killed in bus crash in Cundinamarca

Five people have been killed and nearly two dozen have been injured in a bus crash in the Cundinamarca department, outskirts of Bogotá. The accident happened at the road between the capital and Ocaña, where in the early hours of Wednesday morning, the bus crashed in Puerto Salgar. Preliminary investigations stated that the crash was caused by the driver's fatigue. Bus crashes on national and regional roads in Colombia do not occur very frequently - after the establishment of numerous laws on road regulation - however, it often leads to a large number of casualties. 

Nine FARC militias desert concentration zone, Antioquia

The UN-led Monitor and Verification Mechanism has announced that nine militias of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have deserted the concentration areas in Ituango, north-western Colombia. The confirmation was made by the leader of the FARC's Front 18, who accused the government of not complying with its humanitarian obligations regarding the camp's basic living conditions. The Colombian government established several zones across the country in order to process the cases of FARC militants as part of the amnesty law process and potential reintroduction to civilian life.

Couple killed at restaurant shooting in Cali

Two people have been killed after a shooting has broken out in Cali, central Colombia. The incident happened on Monday evening in the busy commercial sector of Chimisexta in Chiminangos neighbourhood. Preliminary reports show that the armed men were on a motorcycle when they stormed a snack bar and opened fire on costumers during a busy hour. Cali is one of the most dangerous cities in Latin America. Despite the number of murders and intentional homicides experiencing a slight decrease, shootings triggered by gang-related motives still frequently occur.

House of Representatives approve Amnesty Law to FARC guerrillas

The Colombian House of Representatives has approved the Amnesty Law to guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The bill was approved on Wednesday, with 121 votes and is set to protect some members of the group - those not involved in serious crimes such as sexual abuse, crimes against humanity and recruitment of minors. The law was also widely approved by the Senate and Congress and supported by the Constitutional Court through the 'fast track' procedure aimed to facilitate the judgement process. FARC militants are now heading towards special areas across Colombia to proceed with the demobilisation process of its fronts.

ELN criticises Colombian president over peace talks halt

Amid the strained peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN), the ELN leadership has announced intentions of progress ahead of the renewed round of attempted peace talks. The statement released by the subversive group introduced its willingness to attend the meeting scheduled to take place in Quito, Ecuador, on 10 January. The group also criticised President Juan Manuel dos Santos as he ordered the suspension of the previous peace talks amid the ELN's refusal to release its hostages. 

Government employee held hostage by paramilitary in Caquetá

A local government employee and his family have been kidnapped at their own residence by suspected members of the paramilitary group, Los Urabeños. The abduction took place in the Puerto Rico municipality in Caquetá department, southern Colombia. Reports state that the group tied the victims for several hours while raiding their house in search for government information and other documents. Los Urabeños is a Colombian paramilitary group that often carries out kidnappings and attacks targeting government officials and local businessmen. 

Two injured in police station bombing in Cesar department

A police station has been targeted by suspected militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Cesar department, northern Colombia. The incident was reported in the Los Angeles area of Rio de Oro on the early hours of Thursday. Two police officers were injured by the blast of the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) launched at the building. According to the news outlet Vanguardia, this is the fifth bomb attack in the department. The ELN is set to hold peace talks with the government in early January following several failed attempts.

Venezuelan border to re-open amid high security measures

On 20 December, the governor of the Venezuelan region of Táchira, José Gregorio Vielma Mora, announced that the border with Colombia will be re-opened. The border was ordered to be closed until early January over the ongoing attempts to remove 100 bolívares notes from circulation. The early opening will come amid high security measures that will forbid people to cross the border with 100 bolívares notes. According to the government, the border closure with Colombia and Brazil was aimed at blocking criminal gangs from taking currency away from the country.

A dozen injured as police officers and street vendors clash in Barranquilla

At least a dozen people, including 10 police officers, have been injured during clashes between security forces and street vendors in Barranquilla, northern Colombia. The incident happened as police officers stormed the Paseo Bolivar area where illegal street vendors were settled on Monday afternoon. According to a witness, the police fired tear gas at the crowd before engaging with the sellers.

Border with Venezuela to remain closed until early January

Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro has announced that the borders with Brazil and Colombia will remain shut until 2 January. The move comes as the government aims to avoid large amounts of currency leaving the country in the hands of both Colombian and Brazilian criminal groups. This is the second time the border closure has been extended amid the current retrieval from circulation of 100 bolívares notes. Due to the logistical challenge on retrieving the currency it is likely the border closure will suffer further extensions.

Two soldiers gunned down by ELN guerrillas in Arauca

Two Colombian soldiers have been killed by suspected militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN). The incident happened on Sunday afternoon when two armed men on a motorcycle targeted the military stationed in the Arauca department, north-eastern Colombia. The attack took place on the road between Fortul and Saravena near a village known as Caño La Colorada. The ELN is scheduled to resume peace talks with the Colombian government in January following a series of set backs marked by the group's refusal to release hostages.

Venezuelan border to remain shut for 72 hours

On 15 December, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced the extension of the border closure with Brazil and Colombia. Maduro said that both borders will remain shut for another 72-hour period while the country removes the 100 bolívares bank notes from circulation. The move started on 12 November, when the government decided to close the borders in order to avoid currency to be taken abroad by both Colombian and Brazilian criminal groups.

FARC expels leaders for rejecting peace deal

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has expelled five regional leaders for rejecting the peace process agreed with the government.  "The path of peace should not be hampered by a group of reckless people who, ignoring the yearnings of peace of the vast majority of our people, throw themselves off a cliff of personal ambition," said the FARC in a statement.  Meanwhile, the government has pardoned 110 rebels, which apply to "political crimes" but not serious acts of violence, such as murder, rape or torture.

Two dead and several injured on grenade attack in Nariño

On 12 December, at least two people were killed and dozens more injured in a grenade attack at a bar on the coast of Tumaco, Nariño department, south-western Colombia. According to the authorities, the same bar was targeted in a previous attack. The police are investigating the incident. Since the start of the year, 137 people have been violently killed in Tumaco. Violence in Tumaco is often related to clashes between the government and guerrilla forces. However, the town has been suffering a surge in violence as criminal gangs attempt to fill the vacuum left by guerrilla groups.

Venezuela's president orders border closure for 72 hours

On 12 December, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced that the border with Colombia will be closed for 72 hours. The measure comes as part of the attempt to prevent Colombian criminal groups from taking away currency from Venezuela. According to the government, Colombian gangs withdraw large amounts of 100 bolívares notes in order to affect the Venezuelan economic stability and use them in counterfeiting. The government has announced that, effective immediately, 100 bolívares notes will be removed from circulation and new currency will be introduced in the coming weeks.

Government suggests the ELN a Christmas truce ahead talks

Amid the negotiations between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), the chief government negotiator, Juan Camillo Restrepo, announced the intention to declare a truce during the holiday period. Restrepo stated on social media that the move would prepare both sides for the talks set to resume on 10 January, 2017. The ELN and the government previously tried to hold talks in Quito, Ecuador, but they broke down after the ELN refused to release the Colombian congressman Odín Sánchez that they held hostage.

Family car targeted by kidnappers in Barranquilla

On 10 December, three assailants dressed as police officers attempted to kidnap a man in Barranquilla, northern Colombia. The victim and his family were ambushed by the armed men, who approached their targets in a vehicle in the Villa Campestre sector. The kidnappers fled the scene as the victim started to scream after the kidnappers attempted to force them into the car's boot. In recent years, kidnappings across major Colombian cities dropped. However, some criminal groups still remain active.

Santander issues red alert over flooding in the region

The regional government of Santander, northern Colombia, issued a red alert on Wednesday over the imminent flooding of at least eight rivers in the area. The affected rivers are the Magdalena, Chicamocha, Carare, Chucurí, Sogamoso, Lebrija, Suaréz and Opón.  The announcement comes hours after flooding was reported in the rural areas of Barrancabermeja, Sabana de Torres and Betulia due to the flooding of the Sogamoso River.

FARC guerillas head towards transitional zones across Colombia

Thousands of militants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are set to head towards the established transitory zones across the country ahead pf the demobilization process. The march will start on Tuesday, 6 November, as scheduled on the 180-day transitional process. The ministry of defence has announced the deployment of 12,000 soldiers to secure the routes and guarantee the safety of FARC members as the marching routes are only known by the security forces. In the following six months, the FARC is expected to fully demobilise and introduce its members to civil society.

Girl found dead after alleged kidnapping in Bogotá

A seven-year-old girl has been found dead on Sunday evening at an apartment in Bogotá. Yuliana Andrea was reported missing during the morning near the Chapinero area. The body was found after the police's anti-kidnapping unit searched across the El Chocó neighbourhood, where the kidnapper's vehicle was located. Bogotá's Metropolitan Police launched an operation to identify the owner of the building where the victim was located.

Interior minister announces peace deal's amnesty law

The Colombian Minister of Interior Juan Fernando Cristo told a press conference on Thursday that within days the new amnesty for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerillas will be presented to congress. The bill is set to pardon low-ranking FARC fighters for potential political crimes committed within the conflict. This is the first step before extending the agreement to further politically motivated crimes committed by the rest of the group.

Government and ELN to resume peace talks in Quito

The National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Colombian government are set to resume the peace talks on 10 January in Quito, Ecuador. This is the second attempt to hold talks with the ELN guerilla as the initial talks were cancelled after the group refused to free the kidnapped Colombian Congressman Odin Sanchez. A statement released by the government underlined that the agreement "must strictly comply with the (...) prevailing law." Despite efforts on reaching a peace agreement similar to the one signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), some ELN subversive fronts continue to attack Colombian security forces.

Young girl killed in IED blast in Chocó department

A five-year-old girl has been killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Chocó department, western Colombia. According to the Colombian navy, the incident happened near the Evarí river in Virudó, when the indigenous girl was walking with her mother on Saturday. The authorities blame the attack was carried out by a subversive front of the National Liberation Army (ELN). The Cimarrón Resistance is known to operate in the region through targeting security personnel with IEDs. The incident comes days after the government agreed to resume peace talks with the ELN on 10 January.

Emergency authority issues Red alert over flooding in Bolivar

The National Authority for the Risk Management of Disasters (UNGRD) issued a Red alert in over a dozen cities surrounded by the Magdalena river in northern Colombia. The announcement came as heavy rains and severe weather caused water levels to rise and the river to flood. According to Carlos Iván Márquez, the director of the UNGRD, the measure is preemptive, as the flooding has not yet caused any serious damage or casualties. In Bolivar and Magdalena, more than 2,500 people were evacuated after flooding affected nearly 300 residences. Heavy rains, leading to rising water levels in the river, are expected to last for the next two weeks.

Senate approves FARC peace agreement

On 29 November, the peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), signed on 24 November, passed another phase in the Senate. In a 13-hour long session, 75 out of 102 senators voted in favour for the approval of the peace deal's ratification. The main opposition, led by former president Alvaro Uribe, who initially endorsed the 'No' vote, abstained from voting amid much reluctance and criticism. The final approval of the agreement depends on the vote carried out by the Colombian House of Representatives.

Football team's plane crashes in north-western Colombia

On 28 November, at least 75 people were killed in a plane crash near Medellín, north-western Colombia. The plane was coming from São Paulo, Brazil, through the central Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. According to the authorities, the plane reported an electrical fault to air traffic control and lost contact at around 22:15 local time, in the Colombian mountainous region between La Ceja and Abejorral, Antioquia department. The flight was carrying the whole delegation of a Brazilian first division football team to the final of a major South-American tournament. 

Reported surge in street fights in Barranquilla

The police have reported a surge in street fights across Barranquilla in northern Colombia. According to the authorities, there is an unusual tradition of local gang members engaging in clashes when it starts to rain. The fighting is triggered by territorial disputes, and mainly take place in southern Barranquilla. Since the start of the year, a dozen people have been killed during these street fights.

Indigenous population protest against energy project in Magdalena

The local indigenous population of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in north Colombia's Magdalena department, took to the streets to protest against the construction of rumoured hydroelectric project in the area. The environmental minister, Luis Gilberto Murillo, assured the public that such areas are fully protected by law and that no projects had been submitted for government approval. Indigenous leaders and local authorities have been meeting in order to discuss possible projects that may hinder environmental laws or impact indigenous lands.

Youngster shot dead during celebrations in Cali

A 19-year-old boy was killed during football celebrations in Cali on Sunday evening. The incident was reported in the Marroqín neighbourhood, in a western part of the city. According to the authorities, the victim suffered gun shot wounds while inside a vehicle with his father, who was also injured. Preliminary reports reveal that the attackers were on board a motorcycle when they approached the victims and opened fire. The commemorations came as the America de Cali club returned to the first division of the Colombian national championship after five years.

American judge freed by elite anti-kidnapping unit in Cartagena

On 23 November, an American judge was freed by the elite anti-kidnapping unit of the police, Gaula. Los Angeles judge Benny Osorio was abducted by armed criminals while on holiday in Cartagena, northern Colombia, and was held for nearly one week as the kidnappers demanded a ransom of US$ 30,000. Four assailants were arrested and several weapons seized during the rescue operation, launched after the police received intelligence from a joint operation with the FBI. Despite the number of kidnaps decreasing in recent years, cases targeting foreign national occur occasionally.

Security forces under high alert over killings in Antioquia

Security forces in Antioquia, north-western Colombia, are under an Orange alert over the successive assassinations of police officers across the province. According to senior security sources, four police officers were targeted and killed by suspected members of the outlawed Los Urabeños gang, or also known as Gulf Clan. The officers were shot dead in three locations on the outskirts of Medellin - Cisneros, San Jeronico and Armenia-Mantequilla - and in Turbo. The authorities believe the attacks were retaliation for the recent police crackdown on paramilitary groups. Los Urabeños is one of Colombia's main armed groups, who often focus on targeting security forces and their families across Antioquia.

Government and the FARC sign historic peace agreement

On 24 November, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed the revised draft of the long anticipated peace agreement. The ceremony took place in the Cristoban Colón Theatre in Bogota, where President Juan Manuel dos Santos and the FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño signed the historic document. Among other conditions, the deal sets grounds for the FARC to demobilize its fronts and join the political process. Santos said: "As a party without weapons, the FARC can present its political project. It will be Colombians who support or reject it with a vote". The agreement, however, has been engulfed by controversy, mainly by the opposition headed by former president Alvaro Uribe, who raised concerns over transitional justice and the FARC's future political role. The initial deal was rejected by a slim margin in a popular referendum held in late October. Now, the new agreement will head to Congress - where Santos holds a majority - to be approved.

Man assassinated during mass in Cali

On 22 November, a 35-year-old man was assassinated during a mass in Cali, north-western Colombia. Fernando Padilla Toro was at a Church Santa Cicilia in Ciudad Cordoba neighbourhood when he was approached by an armed man who then shot him. The police launched an investigation into the incident, which came days after a family member of the victim was killed. Homicide rates in Cali have dropped in recent years, but there is still a high level of criminal activity in the city.

Member of Colombian terrorist group arrested in Ourense

On 24 November, police in Ourense arrested a Colombian woman after a warrant for her arrest was issued in Colombia on charges of terrorism. The woman is accused of recruiting and radicalising young men and is alleged to have taken part in three terrorist attacks. Her brother was arrested in Cucuta, Colombia, and is accused of being a logistical coordinator for the terror group. 

Government and the FARC to sign revised peace deal

The Colombian President Juan Manuel dos Santos has announced that the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are set to sign a new peace agreement on 24 November. The new deal will be submitted to Congress for approval, and not to a popular vote like the first draft was. The opposition and several former leaders have already raised several concerns over the new agreement and issues regarding transitional justice and the political spectre of the FARC.

Opposition reinforce position against peace deal

Following hours of negotiation between the government and the opposition, the latter issued a statement endorsing its position against the peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). According to the opposition spokesperson, the government disregarded the revision of the deal - originally refused in a referendum held in October - and the recommendations made by the opposition over transitional justice, political eligibility and inclusion of the deal on the constitution. Furthermore, the government has refused the proposal of the opposition to deal directly with the FARC. The second round of talks between the government and the FARC resumed in mid-November, when both parts agreed on a revised peace-deal.

Child sex trafficking ring dismantled in Amazonas state

A child sex trafficking ring has been dismantled and a dozen criminals arrested in Leticia, Amazonas State, near the tri-border with Brazil and Peru. The group was involved in a international human trafficking scheme that lured young girls into working as prostitutes in neighbouring countries. The Colombian state prosecutor told Reuters that the girls were aged between 14 and 16 years of age and were from very poor backgrounds.

Transandine oil pipeline targeted twice in Nariño

The Guiza river has been contaminated with crude oil after two attacks against the Transandine oil pipeline in Ricaurte, Nariño department, south-eastern Colombia. The first incident happened in the municipality of Mallama, with the leak being swiftly contained. The second attack was attributed to militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the crude oil reached the margins of the river. According to the company that explores the oil duct, Ecopetrol, this is the fourth attack targeting the Transandine pipeline in 2016.

Senior ELN member killed in joint operation in Chocó

A joint operation led by the Colombian army and intelligence services resulted in the death of one of the National Liberation Army (ELN) leaders, Jorge Arturo Salgado Restrepo, known as 'El Pastruso'. The operation happened in Tadó, Chocó department, western Colombia. 'El Pastruso' was the prime suspect for the kidnapping of the former congressman Odín Sanchéz and was responsible for the guerrilla's finances. After failing in initial peace talks with the Colombian government after the ELN refused to release Sanchez, the ELN has been intensifying its operations against security forces and civilians. 

Japanese national shot dead in Medellin

On 19 November, a 22-year-old Japanese national was killed in Medellin, north-eastern Colombia. Reports state that Izaky Ryo was attacked near his hostel in the Laureles district by two robbers and was shot after attempting to fight off the attackers. Local media stated that this is the fourth foreign citizen killed in Medellin in 2016. All of the cases reportedly involving attempted robbery.

Four social leaders attacked in separate incidents across Colombia

Four social leaders were attacked by armed militants across the weekend in several areas of the country. On 18 November, a prominent agrarian leader, Erley Monroy, was killed in San Vicente del Caguán, Caquetá department. On the following day, another leader was shot five times and was severely injured when coming back home from Monroy's funeral. In La Macarena, Meta department, a masked man shot dead another local social leader. In Nariño a local leader escaped an ambush when coming back home on the afternoon of 19 November. Two men on a motorcycle opened fire and shot at him six times. The wave of attacks against social leaders triggered concerns of the workers' security across Colombia. Several organisations blame criminals of undermining the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the guerrillas.

Two police officers shot dead by cartel in Antioquia

On 16 November, two police officers were killed in separate attacks in Antioquia, north-western Colombia. The first attack happened when armed men shot a 26-year-old officer in Cisneros, outskirts of Medellin. Hours later in the Uraba area, amid the Operation Agamenón targeting the leader of the outlawed cartel del Golfo, a patrol officer was killed. According to the authorities, both attacks were carried out by the cartel, which holds a strong presence in the Antioquia department.

Judge orders house arrest of 19 extortionists in Colombia

A Colombian judge ordered the house arrest of 19 people over involvement in an extortion scheme carried out from inside a maximum security prison in Bogotá. Seventeen of the criminals were women who were responsible for the withdrawal of the demanded sum of money at collection points. The prisoners of the facility, known as La Modelo, called the victims and informed them that a member of their family had been arrested for an undisclosed reason. The criminals would offer help to arrange the release of the alleged victim. According to the authorities, the scheme affected over 60 people in less than a year across seven Colombian departments.

FARC duo killed after ceasefire violation in Bolivar province

Two militants from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been killed in clashes with security forces in Bolivar province, northern Colombia. In a statement released by the military, the rebels were carrying out extortions in a nearby location. The confrontation was triggered by the violation of the agreed ceasefire that restricts the use of weapons outside a certain area. The incident comes days after the FARC leadership and the Colombian government agreed to carry on with a revised draft of the peace deal.

Police officers injured by explosion in Norte de Santander

On the morning of 16 November, at least a dozen police officers were injured by a strong blast in Norte de Santander, north-eastern Colombia. The ambush targeted a patrol truck of the riot unit of the police, Esmad, who were passing through the Atalaya neighbourhood in Cúcuta. Initial unconfirmed reports state that the attack was a retaliation from local drug trafficking groups. Norte de Santander is a region known for the widespread operations of criminal gangs dedicated to the traffic of drugs. Due to the high levels of smuggling and other security concerns, Venezuela closed its main land borders in the area.

Two police officers shot dead in Casanare

On 13 November, two police officers were shot dead in Casanare department, on the outskirts of Bogotá. The incident took place near the Charte river in Yopal, when unknown men on a motorcycle targeted the officers. According to the authorities, both victims had their pistols stolen after being shot. Preliminary investigations blame some factions of the National Liberation Army (ELN) of targeting security forces in the region. The chief negotiator of the government, Juan Camilo Restrepo, stated that the attack raises some doubts over the real intentions of the ELN regarding a future peace deal.

Government and FARC approve revised peace deal

On 12 November, in Havana, Cuba, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) agreed to a revised peace agreement. The deal comes after the initial peace draft was rejected by the Colombian population on 2 October. Both parties released a joint statement urging the international community to endorse the deal as "peace cannot wait anymore." The government did not mention whether a new referendum will take place. The controversial clause of the agreement, which permits FARC guerrillas to run for government, was not changed. However, the FARC must disclose all its assets and drug trade information, and convert them towards the victim's compensation.

Teachers protest against healthcare provider in Risaralda

Hundreds of teachers and members of the Teachers' Syndicate of Risaralda stormed the streets of Pereira, western Colombia, to protest over their healthcare provider. The protest took place in front of the Cosmitet clinic that has been accused of inefficiency and poor services. The syndicate's leader, Didier Valencia, pressured the Ministry of Education and other institutions to enforce measures towards the improvement of the health service that is discounted monthly from the teachers' payroll. The renewed demonstration comes amid several other protests endorsed by the syndicate over the tributary reforms proposed by the government.

Criminals open fire during car theft attempt in Barranquilla

On 6 November, a young couple was targeted by armed criminals in Barranquilla, northern Colombia. The incident took place when a 17-year-old girl and her friend were approached by armed men on a motorcycle in the Las Cayenas neighbourhood. Amid a brief pursuit, the victims crashed their car on a side walk and immediately fled the scene on foot. The assailants opened fire at the couple, hitting the girl in the right arm. She was taken to hospital and is in a stable condition.

UN mission to Colombia initiates ceasefire monitoring

On 7 November, the ceasefire UN mission began in Colombia, amid renewed peace talks between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The mission comprised of nearly 400 agents who will monitor the FARC and government activities amid the ceasefire agreement. One of the conditions is for the FARC to reveal its camps and routes, as the government is forbidden to attack FARC strongholds during the period. The move comes as the FARC and the Colombian government resumed the talks in Havana in order to negotiate renewed terms for a peace deal.

FARC peace deal negotiations set to resume in Havana

The negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are set to resume on Friday, 4 November. The government's negotiation team headed to Havana, Cuba, in order to initiate the new round of talks with the insurgent group. Amid the renewed efforts are the review on the agreement points and the establishment of a date for a referendum similar to the one carried out in October, where the deal was rejected by a slim margin.

Colombian soldier killed in ELN raid in Nariño

An attack carried out by militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN) led to the death of a Colombian soldier in Nariño, near the border with Ecuador. According to the National Police, the assailants detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) near a military base in the area and opened fire on the soldiers. Diego Rodríguez was hit by a gun shot while working on a road  as part of a social project near the cities of Barbacoas and Junín. Current negotiations between the Colombian government and the ELN have been suspended after the militants refused to release their hostages.

Anti-FARC deal march attacked by left wing militants in Bogota

On 29 October, a march led by the Centro Democrático - the party of former president Alvaro Uribe - was interrupted by clashes between the protesters and left-wing demonstrators. The action was triggered when protesters were heading towards the Plaza Bolívar in Bogotá to demand that the government respects the results of the peace agreement referendum. The protesters were attacked by members of other left-wing movements near the National Park. Multiple people were taking to the hospital with wounds caused by knives and other weapons, and several others were arrested. The peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was rejected through a popular referendum in early October.

Security Council approves UN mission to Colombia

On 1 November, the UN Security Council authorised the deployment of a UN Mission to Colombia to monitor the ceasefire agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The mission is set to assist the current Monitoring and Verification Mechanism established by the Colombian government, through liaison with the local population and the enforcement of human rights policies. The decision comes after the peace deal referendum was rejected by the Colombian population following four years of negotiations.

Campesino activist found dead in Cauca

On 1 November, a 34-year-old member of the left-wing Marcha Patriotica movement was found dead in Cauca, south-eastern Colombia. The trade unionist's body was recovered with three bullet wounds, near the Santa Rita community. The Marcha Patriotica is a political movement comprising over 2,000 organizations across Colombia. The group accuse paramilitary and criminal groups of persecuting against members of social and political movements. Since the start of the peace talks in 2012 - between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government - over 130 Marcha Patriotica members were reportedly killed.

Peace agreement to include population's proposals

On 28 October, the Colombian government's chief negotiator, Humberto de La Calle, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced renewed efforts on the peace deal negotiations. The announcement was issued in Havana, Cuba, where both parties agreed to include the Colombian people's proposals. La Calle said that "We have considered proposals for adjustment of the document and these proposals are now under discussion carefully as many of them are being introduced to the new accord." The decision comes after the Colombian population rejected the terms of the peace agreement.

President Santos postpones ELN peacetalks after hostage release failed

On 27 October, the initiation of peace talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) was suspended by President Juan Manuel Santos after the ELN failed to fulfil the commitment to release Odin Sanchez, who was kidnapped in April. One of the main conditions of the government to negotiate is the immediate release of hostages held by the guerrilla group.

Two lorry drivers killed by ELN militants in Arauca

Between 17:00 and 17:30 local time (22:00-22:30 GMT), on 27 October, two lorries were attacked by militants of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Arauca, northern Colombia. The raid took place on the road between the locations of Fortul and Tame when the drivers failed to stop at the assailants request. The militants opened fire and launched explosives at the vehicles killing both drivers. The attack came hours after the Colombian President Juan Manuel dos Santos announced the cancellation of the peace talks with the ELN - due to the denial of a hostage release - scheduled to be held in Quito, Ecuador. Government troops were later deployed to the area to increase security.

Colombian government and ELN start talks in Ecuador

On 27 October, the Colombian government and guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN) began peace talks aimed at ending the country's long-standing conflict. The meeting took place in Quito, Ecuador, and will be largely monitored by international press and politicians. The meeting comes weeks after the Colombian population voted against the terms of a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in a national referendum.

Seven killed and a dozen missing after mudslide hits central Colombia

At least seven people have been killed and nearly a dozen others remain missing after a mudslide triggered by heavy rains hit central Colombia. The incident happened on the mountainous area of the main Bogota-Medellin highway on Wednesday near the Copacabana municipality. Between October and November Colombia often faces high levels of rainfall across the country, where landslides and flooding often damage roads and houses.

One ELN member killed and four arrested in Casanare Department

On 17 October, one rebel from the National Liberation Army (ELN) was killed and four others were arrested in an operation carried out by the Colombian army in the Casanare department. The operation comes ten days before peace talks commence between the ELN and Colombian government. The army says that the operation targeted the public order and financial wings of the ELN, and that three of the captured rebels were local commanders, one of whom was wounded. A separate operation in the Choco department reportedly resulted in the "demobilisation" of 24 guerrillas. 

Colombia extends Farc ceasefire

On 14 October, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos extended a ceasefire agreement with Farc rebels until the end of the year, giving both sides more time to reach a peace deal. He extended the expiry date of the ceasefire from 31 October to 31 December. 

Government and ELN announce peace talks

On 11 October, the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), Colombia's second largest rebel group, announced that they will engage in formal peace negotiations later this month. The talks will be launched in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, on 27 October. Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos has urged both sides to be realistic in their demands. 

Major oil pipeline blown up by ELN rebels in Arauca

On 5 October, rebels from the National Liberation Army (ELN) blew up Colombia's second-largest pipeline, Cano-Limon Covenas, halting production. The attack occurred late at night in Saravena, Arauca province. Ecopetrol, the pipeline's operator, said that they will send staff to repair tubing in the pipeline, which is estimated to take several days, depending on the security conditions. Military sources blamed the ELN for the attack, despite their announced desire to engage in peace talks with the government. 

Voters reject FARC peace deal

On 3 October, Colombian voters rejected a peace deal with Farc rebels in a national referendum, with 50.2 percent voting against it. The peace deal was signed last week by President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timoleon Jimenez but needed to be ratified by Colombians before it could come into effect. President Santos has said that he accepts the result but will continue working to achieve peace. Less than 38 percent of voters in the country cast their votes in the referendum. Most of those who voted against the peace deal reportedly did so because of the conditions of it, in which Farc rebels who confessed their crimes would have been given more lenient sentences and avoid any time in conventional prisons. 

ELN rebels ready to start peace talks with government

On 29 September, the National Liberation Army (ELN), Colombia's second-largest rebel group, said that they are ready to begin formal peace talks with the Colombian government. This statement comes days after a historic peace accord was signed by the government and the FARC guerrilla group. 

FARC militant group unanimously approves peace deal with Colombian government

On 23 September, the FARC rebel group voted unanimously to approve a peace deal with the Colombian government to cease armed insurrection and become a political party. After four years of negotiations in Havana, a peace deal was reached last month to end the five-decade war that has killed over 250,000 people. As part of the agreement, FARC will receive ten unelected seats in Congress until 2026 and will continue to push for social change. They are expected to become a political party rooted in Marxist ideals.

Five ELN guerrillas arrested in Antioquia

On 19 September, Colombian police arrested five guerrillas from the National Liberation Front (ELN) in Antioquia. The suspects had been accused of extortion and of recruiting minors. 'Operation Phoenix' took place simultaneously in the cities of Amalfi, Segovia and Zaragoza, with police seizing AK47 assault rifles, communications equipment and reports detailing financial information of the guerrillas' victims. The suspects face charges including the finance of terrorism, the production, trafficking and possession of firearms, aggravated conspiracy for extortion, and rebellion. 

Sixteen police officers arrested in Bogota for links to criminal gangs

On 16 September, 16 police officers were arrested and charged with having ties to local gangs under their jurisdiction. Investigations by federal agencies suggested that the officers had facilitated the sale of drugs, shoplifting and arms trafficking with the assistance of two local gangs. The investigation is still ongoing to determine the scale of their involvement. 

5.9-magnitude earthquake reported in western Colombia

At around 21:00 on 13 September, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported a shallow earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 near Mutata in Antioquia department, north-western Colombia. The tremor had a reported depth of ten miles and could be felt in Bogota. No deaths or injuries have been reported. 

Two smugglers accused of killing two Cubans arrested in Antioquia

On 12 September, two smugglers were arrested by the Colombian authorities on suspicion of murdering two Cuban nationals who were attempting to reach the United States through Panama. Johan Carreazo and Carlos Ibarguen were indicted on charges of "violent sexual intercourse, femicide, aggravated homicide, torture and smuggling of migrants." They had demanded 500 USD from each of the Cubans in exchange for transport to Panama, but when the Cubans refused, the two men tortured them with knives and left them to die. 

Major oil pipeline attacked by the ELN in Norte Santander

A major Colombian oil pipeline has been attacked by leftist militants in Norte Santander, near the Venezuelan border. No significant damage was caused by the attack on the state-owned Cano Limon pipeline on Saturday. The attack was carried out by fighters from the National Liberation Army (ELN), who have been negotiating a peace deal with the Colombian government. The peace deal with the ELN is similar to the one agreed in August with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC); however the negotiations have been halted since March, under the condition of the ELN releasing hostages that they currently hold captive.

ELN frees another kidnapped rice farmer in Arauca

The National Liberation Front (ELN) has released another hostage held in Arauca province. The hostage was identified as 41-year-old rice farmer Pablo Emilio Sanchez, and was released to the Red Cross. It is believed that two more hostages are still being held by the ELN. The group often kidnaps poor rural farmers who cannot afford to pay the tax demanded of them by the ELN to farm on their land.

Shipment of over two tons of cocaine seized by the Navy

On 30 August, the Pacific Naval Force reported that they had intercepted and seized a shipment of 2,262 tons of cocaine belonging to the Gulf Clan cartel. The seizure of the class A drug came as a result of a series of operations. The first operation involved the interception of a boat with no name or registration, crewed by four Colombian nationals, where naval forces confiscated 37 bundles with 1,500 rectangular packages and 638 gallons of fuel, all destined to be transported to Central America. The second operation resulted in naval units discovering 21 packages of cocaine in a mangrove field. The combined operations led to the arrest of "Don Camilo", a major drug trafficker in charge of Gulf Clan operations in the Nariño province.

Government reaches historical agreement with the FARC

The Colombian government has reached a historical agreement with the long-standing insurgency carried out by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). A joint statement issued in the Havana, Cuba, said that: "The Colombian government and the FARC announce that we have reached a final, full and definitive accord". One of the implications of the agreement is that FARC will put down its arms in order to join a legal political process. The accord was signed after four years of intense negotiations and will now be up to the Colombian population to approve it, through a referendum expected to be held in October.

Bomb blasts reported at several health facilities in Bogota

Three low intensity bombs went off in different locations in Colombia's capital Bogota on Monday. The blasts happened at several Health Care Providers (EPS) located in Bogota, Restrepo and Puente Aranda. No casualties were reported. The authorities launched an investigation to assess the motives for the attack, which they believe to be connected to a previous incident at an EPS in April.

Regional leader of the Gulf Clan arrested in Medellin

On 22 August, a regional leader of the Gulf Clan, known as "Carillo", was arrested by Colombian authorities in Medellin. Carillo was known for expanding the Gulf Clan into the Eastern plains of Colombia and for implementing a military-style organisational structure. During the arrest, police also seized a cache of weapons, including AK-47 rifles, grenades, pistols, and ammunition in various calibres. Cars, mobile phones, USB drives and various payroll and inventory documents were also seized.  

Several people kidnapped by ELN in Arauca

Nearly a dozen local nationals have been kidnapped by the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Arauca, near the Venezuelan border. The situation was confirmed by a close source to the hostages, who told local news that the farmers were from other regions and were working in Arauca. The source also confirmed that the incident was triggered by the rise in prices charged by the guerrilla to operate the lands and use agricultural equipment. The incident comes amid the ongoing peace deal negotiations between the ELN and the Colombian government, which has been hindered by the recurring kidnappings perpetrated by the guerrilla group.

Peasants protest over oil exploration in Caqueta

Thousands of peasants took to the streets across Caquetá, southern Colombia, to protest over the presence of major oil companies settled in the region. The demonstrators marched to demand the protection of the peasant population's rights in the region by being included on the decision making process regarding the energy exploration in the area. The violence escalated in the rural area of the Valparaiso, where during clashes between security forces and demonstrators, a peasant was shot in the leg. A local official stated that the situation in Caquetá remains unstable, as the main reason for the successive unrest across the region regards the presence of multinational oil companies.

Venezuela and Colombia to reopen border

Venezuela and Colombia have agreed to reopen a number of border crossings from Saturday.  The announcement comes a year after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro closed the border on security grounds, expelling a number of Colombians.  "It will be a temporary opening schedule while we learn and adapt to the decisions so that each step we take will be accurate and positive," said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.  The move could help ease the economic crisis in Venezuela, which has resulted in a shortage of many basic goods.

Colombian authorities raze Bogota slum

The Colombian authorities have started demolishing a notorious slum in the capital, Bogota.  The Bronx district, which had a long history of crime and drug addiction, is going to be converted into a business centre. However, many former residents from the Bronx claim the areas they have been relocated to are also suffering from insecurity, while there are also allegations of police complicity in the zone’s illegal activities.

Three ELN militants killed by Venezuelan forces in Arauca

Three members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) have been killed during clashes with Venezuelan security forces along the Colombian-Venezuelan border. Colombian authorities said that the confrontation took place in Saravena in Arauca province.  The Venezuelan defence minister, Vladimir Padrino, claimed that the offensive happened on the Venezuelan side of the border. Since March, the ELN has been negotiating a peace agreement with the Colombian government, similar to the one under negotiation in Cuba with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Hundreds of FARC militants to be freed as part of peace deal

The Colombian minister of justice, Jorge Eduardo Londoño, announced on Thursday that about 400 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) prisoners will be released as part of the peace agreement between the guerrillas and the government. In a public statement the minister said that alongside the peace agreement, the country has been facing a crisis regarding the overcapacity of Colombian prisons. The release of the prisoners will only happen if the Colombian voters agree on the terms of the agreement through the approved plebiscite, which has still not been scheduled.

Four dead in clashes at Libertadores Cup final

During the final match of South-America's most important football tournament, the Libertadores Cup, four people were killed and 23 others injured in clashes in Bogota and Medellin. In the Kennedy area of Bogota, three people died during fighting between supporters of two rival teams. Authorities stated that hundreds of police officers were deployed to contain over 600 street fights, adding that 100 people were arrested. In Medellin, northern Colombia, a football supporter died after he was slashed in the neck by a rival fan.  Football celebrations in Colombia often result in casualties; during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, eight people were killed in violence in Bogota.

Cocaine laboratories destroyed in Putumayo

A joint operation carried out by the Colombian police and armed forces has resulted in the destruction of 27 cocaine laboratories along the Ecuadorian border. The operation, supported by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), also led to the seizure of 615kgs of cocaine. Authorities confirmed that the installations located across the Putumayo department belonged to the criminal organization known as 'La Constru', linked to the Clan del Golfo and responsible for over 300 drug-related homicides in the last 10 years.

Dozens arrested in anti-extortion operations across Colombia

A major police operation has led to the arrest of 60 people linked to extortion schemes across Colombia. The police's anti-kidnapping and anti-extortion group (GAULA) stated that the operation 'Baranowski' was carried out across 11 cities, 13 towns and 14 other departments. According to the director of GAULA: "The group was executing extortion calls to around five thousand people across the country, with support of inmates at several prisons". Authorities reported that among the assailants are members of several organized crime groups, including the Clan del Golfo.

Four ELN militants killed during joint operation in Cauca

The Colombian armed forces, with the support of law enforcement agents, have carried out a joint operation that resulted in the death of four members of the Jose Maria Becerra front of the ELN in Timbiqui, Cauca department. The Jose Maria Becerra front was responsible for multiple crimes, such as extortion and drug-trafficking, across eastern Colombia. Brigadier General Luis Fernando Rojas stated that the action comes as part of a wider operation, designated Plan de Guerra Espada de Honor 4, which aims to end the ELN insurgency.

High court rules in favour of plebiscite over FARC peace talks

Amid the ongoing peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a high court ruled in favour of a plebiscite to approve the peace agreement. Negotiators of both President Juan Manuel dos Santos and leaders of the FARC have chosen to abide by the popular vote, which constitutional rules would allow to be approved with 13 percent of the eligible votes. The popular referendum is expected to decide the disarmament programme of the rebel group and its transformation into a political party.

FARC guerrillas wounded in Meta clashes

Three guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been wounded in clashes with the Colombian army.  “This took place 48 hours ago in La Uribe. A FARC patrol unit came upon an army rapid response team patrol and engaged,” said Defence Minister Luis Carlos Villegas on Sunday.  The fighting came weeks after both sides agreed to a bilateral ceasefire following years of negotiations in Havana, Cuba.

Thousands head to Colombia in search of food

Thousands of Venezuelans have crossed into Colombia in search of food and medication after the border opened temporarily.  Around 35,000 people travelled to Cucuta via the border crossing at San Antonio del Táchira during the 12-hour window.  Venezuela, which is in the middle of an economic crisis, is suffering from a mass shortage of basic goods and high inflation.  Last week around 500 women broke through the border in search of food.

FARC militant front vows to continue insurgency

A front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) issued a statement vowing to continue the insurgency, despite last month's peace agreement. The Armandos Rios First Front said: "We have decided not to demobilize, we will continue the fight for the taking of power by the people for the people, independent of the decision taken by the rest of the members of the organization." President Juan Manuel dos Santos and FARC's leader Rodrigo Londoño agreed last month in Cuba to a ceasefire, with militants given 180 days to lay down their arms or face severe consequences from the Colombian government.

Two police officers killed in Nariño

Two police officers have been killed by National Liberation Army (ELN) members in Nariño, south-western Colombia. The officers were on patrol at a public square in Providencia during a popular event when they were shot dead by members of the Jaime Otallo Obando Front. The assailants fled the scene as army officials launched a search operation in the region.

Senior ELN members arrested in Tolima

A joint operation led to the arrest of a senior member of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in a rural area of Tolima. Dario de Jesus Calle Correa, known as 'Guadalupe', was the leader of the ELN's central region branch, responsible for the armed insurgency in the departments of Tolima and Huila. In March ELN militants and the government agreed to hold negotiations over a potential ceasefire; however, the process has been undermined by ELN's successive kidnappings and attacks across the country.

Three injured in restaurant shooting in Cali

Armed men opened fire at a restaurant in Ciudad Jardin, Cali on Tuesday evening. Three people, including a five-year-old boy, were injured in the shooting. Authorities believe that the attack was an act of retaliation, with one of the victims recently released from prison for drug-trafficking. The police also revealed that the man was an informant who had been working with the authorities on several investigations.

FARC and government set for peace deal in Havana

The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are set to sign a cease-fire deal on Thursday in Havana, Cuba. President Jose Manuel dos Santos and Rodrigo Londoño, known as 'Timochenko', will sign the agreement, under which the militant group have agreed to lay down their arms. The ceremony expects the presence from members of the Chilean, Venezuelan and Cuban governments, as well as representatives from the US and the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon. The conflict has lasted for almost 50 years and claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people.

Fourteen airline employees arrested over money laundering

More than a dozen employees of the Colombian airliner Avianca have been arrested for alleged links to a money laundering network. The individuals are suspected of laundering money for drug cartels, such as the 'Clan del Golfo', 'los Rastrojos' and also for the Mexican drug kingpin, Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman. The company's CEO, Hernan Rincon, said "rigorous work was undertaken years ago with the authorities of Colombia, United States, Spain, Mexico and other countries, in order to combat the possible use of the network and assets of Avianca for drug trafficking and illegal transportation of currency".

Four police officers arrested for corruption in Bogota

Four police officers have been arrested by the anti-corruption unit of the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (DIJIN) in Bogota. The law-enforcement officers, including two police captains, are accused of extortion, kidnapping, fraud and corruption. Another suspect is accused of having an association with criminal groups which carried out burglaries in the city. According to DIJIN sources internal investigations are ongoing and more officers are expected to be arrested.

Two police officers killed in Norte de Santander

Two Colombian police officers have been killed in an attack by suspected National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas in the Norte de Santander department.  The incident happened when a group of gunmen opened fire on a local police station in San Calixto on Sunday.  The deceased have been identified as Lieutenant Jhonatan Anturi Parra, the commander of the police station, and Patrolman Lenier Ballesteros.

Israeli national killed by armed men in Medellin

An Israeli national has been shot dead by armed men in the western city of Medellin. Two assailants riding a motorcycle fired at least 10 shots against the 37-year-old man, who succumbed to his wounds after he was taken to hospital. The motives of the attack remain unknown, however the authorities said that it is not related to the World Economic Forum on Latin America, which is taking place in Medellin until Friday.

Six people murdered in Medellin

Six people were murdered in the Colombian city of Medellin on Saturday night.  Three people died in the Comuna 7 Robledo, two in the Comuna 13 and a sixth in San Javier Bello, according to local officials.  Investigations are still ongoing to determine the motives behind the killings; however several of the victims had previously been convicted on drug trafficking and extortion charges, and the murders may well be gang related.  So far this year 211 homicides have been recorded in the city, a slight increase over the same period in 2015.

Human rights activist shot dead in Medellin

A leading human rights activist has been shot dead outside his home in Medellin in north-western Colombia. Ramón Eduardo Acevedo was shot dead at close range in the city's El Chagualo neighbourhood on Monday afternoon.  Police said they have captured one suspect in connection with the killing and are investigating the motives behind it.

Two dead in farmers' protest in Colombia

Two people have been killed and dozens more wounded in clashes during a strike by indigenous farmers in Colombia's Cauca department.  The Defence Ministry said there was no evidence that the two deaths were caused by the security forces.  The protesters, led by the Agriculatural Summit group, claim that the government has failed to keep promises made during similar strikes in 2013, while many small farmers claim the free trade agreements with the US and EU has led to rising food imports.

Three journalists kidnapped in North Santander

It has been confirmed that the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group has kidnapped the three journalists who were reported missing in recent days, near the border with Venezuela. Among the victims is the Spanish national Salud Hernandez, who went missing near the town of El Tarra, North Santader, on Saturday. Two local reporters were also abducted by the militants after being reported missing on Tuesday. The incident was confirmed by the Defense Ministry, which demanded the immediate liberation of the hostages.

Senior member of ELN's front killed in Antioquia

A senior leader of the front Jose Antonio Galan of the National Liberation Army (ELN) has been killed in Antioquia, northern Colombia. Eduardo Uribe Anaya, known as 'Diego Pitufo' was shot dead during clashes between the ELN and Colombian armed forces in Segovia. Pitufo was accused of being behind an attack against a power station and the kidnapping of an army soldier in the same region in February.

Severe weather affects dozens in Cali

Strong winds have caused severe damage to multiple houses and other infrastructure in Cali, western Colombia. According to official reports, dozens of people were affected by uninterrupted hours of heavy rain and high speed winds on Tuesday. Local authorities said 80 families had been affected in Felidia and aid was being administered to assist the victims.

Two killed in separate Bogota attacks

Two people have been killed in separate attacks in the Colombian capital, Bogota.  The first incident took place in the Prado Veraniego neighbourhood when gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a pedestrian in an apparent targeted killing.  Later a 60-year-old man was stabbed to death in an armed robbery in the town of Usaquen, to the north of the capital.  A judicial enquiry has been launched in to both killings.

Three youngsters shot dead in Puerto Santander

Unknown men riding a motorcycle have shot dead three youngsters in Puerto Santander, near the Venezuelan border. The police exchanged fire with the assailants who fled the scene, leaving their vehicle behind. So far eight people have been killed in Puerto Santander during 2016, forcing the mayor, Henry Valero, to summon the authorities to assess the security situation in the border town.

Spanish journalist feared kidnapped in Colombia

A Spanish journalist has disappeared while working on a story about narco-trafficking in the Norte de Santander province.  Salud Hernandez, 59, went missing near the town of El Tarra on Saturday and there are fears that she has been kidnapped by the National Liberation Army (ELN).  "I order priority and dedication from the armed forces in establishing where the journalist Salud Hernandez is," said President Juan Manuel Santos.  Hernandez works for the Spanish El Mundo newspaper and has covered Colombia for two decades.

Major oil pipeline attacked by ELN militants in Arauca

An attack against one of the largest oil pipelines in Colombia has been reported by the state-run Ecopetrol. The attack on the Caño Limon-Covenãs oil pipeline happened near Saravena and Piedemonte Llanero, close to the border with Venezuela. The authorities suspect that the attack was carried out by National Liberation Army (ELN) insurgents who are known to operate in the region. Since the beginning of 2016 the 770km-long pipeline has been targeted several times, causing oil spillages and disrupting extraction operations.

Colombian police in record cocaine haul

Colombian police have seized more than eight tonnes of cocaine in the north-western town of Turbo.  The operation targeted the narco-trafficking gang, Clan Usuga, and four of the group's members were also arrested in the raids.  The Colombian Defense Ministry called it the biggest seizure of cocaine in the country's history.

Man kidnapped in Norte Santander

A 58-year-old man has been kidnapped by armed men in Norte Santander. The victim, Antonio Vera, and his brother were approached by kidnappers near La Lejia, on the road between Labateca and Pamplona. The victim's brother was tied to a tree and manage to escape to alert the authorities, while Vera was taken to an unknown location.

Panama closes Colombian border to block migrant flow

Panama has closed the border with Colombia to prevent the flow of migrants from Cuba and Africa entering the country.  "We've taken the difficult decision to close the border with Colombia in the Puerto Obaldia area and in other parts of the border to prevent the trafficking of illegal immigrants," President Juan Carlos Varela said in a statement.  Last week Panama agreed to transfer 3,500 Cubans stranded near the Costa Rican border to northern Mexico, from where they hope to reach the US under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1996.

Cartel money launderer arrested in Bogota

A Panamanian businessman was arrested by the Colombian anti-narcotics unit at Bogota airport on Wednesday. Nidal Waked, a businessman in the banking, real estate and retail sectors, is suspected to be a money launderer for major Colombian and Mexican drug cartels. Waked is in custody in Bogota, but the United States has requested his extradition to face charges of federal money laundering and bank fraud in Florida. The operation comes after the leak of the Panama Papers, which led to the US Treasury Department freezing assets of Colombian and Panamanian companies suspected of money laundering.

Eight FARC members arrested in Choco

A joint operation led by the Colombian armed forces and the police of Chocó department has led to the arrest of eight alleged members of the Revolutionary Armed Forced of Colombia (FARC) in Bahia Solano and Juradó, north-western Colombia. According to the authorities, among the suspects are two financial experts from the group's Frente 57, which is responsible for providing logistical support to guerrillas across Colombia.

Five wounded in May Day riots

Five people were wounded in riots at a May Day rally in Colombia's capital, Bogota on Sunday.  Police fired tear gas at a crowd of masked protesters in Plaza Bolivar in the centre of the city.  Smaller peaceful marches were also held across the rest of the country, including the cities of Medellin and Cali.

Several families evacuated due to landslide in Bogota

At least 23 people were evacuated after their houses were hit by a landslide on Wednesday. The incident happened in the neighbourhood of Juan Jose Rondon in Ciudad Bolivar, where four houses were caught in a landslide caused by severe rain. Emergency services were deployed to the scene to assist the families and assess the damage done to the buildings. The incident comes a week after nine people were killed by a landslide in Tado, north-western Colombia.

ELN guerrillas clash with troops in Antioquia

Two suspected National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas have been killed in clashes with the Colombian army in Antioquia province.  The fighting took place in the village of Bejuquillo in Caceres municipality.  Six ELN members were arrested and a cache of weapons and ammunition was seized during the operation.

Nine killed by landslide near Tado

Nine people were killed by a landslide in north-western Colombia on Saturday. The incident took place on the Animas-Pereira highway near the town of Tadó in Chocó department. Several vehicles, including a passenger bus and a pick-up truck, were hit by a landslide caused by heavy rain. A task force led by the Colombian army were deployed to the scene to assist with the search and rescue operations.

Nine wounded by grenade blast in Valdivia

Four police officers and five civilians were wounded in a grenade blast in the north-western department of Antioquia on Monday. According to the Antioquia Police Colonel Giovanni Buitrago, the attack against the police patrol station in Valdivia is suspected to be a retaliation by the Usuga Clan, which recently had more than 35 of its members arrested across several locations on the Atlantic coast. Colombia's president Juan Manuel dos Santos has recently been increasing efforts to dismantle organized crime groups within the country.

Seven members of criminal group arrested across Huila department

Seven members of a criminal gang have been arrested in the eastern department of Huila. The members of the group 'Los Burreros' specialized in high-stake robberies, which were carried out across several cities in the department. The operation, carried out by multiple security agencies, had been investigating the group since 2013, when they robbed over 470 million pesos from the safe of a major supermarket. Among the assailants were two former police officers and a woman, while the operations took place across in Pitalito, Guadalupe, Elias, Campoalegre and Mocoa.

Forty members of criminal group arrested in Guarne

Over 40 alleged members and associates of the criminal group 'los Cachorros' were arrested in Antioquia on Friday. The members of the gang, who specialize in drug trafficking, kidnapping and extortion, have been arrested in the Guarne municipality, near Medellin. Among the captured are both Interpol-wanted leaders of the group, known as 'Aldemar' and 'Repollo'. The main areas of operation of the gang were San Vicente, Alcores, Bellavista, la Clara and Chaparral. The operation comes one day after 39 members of the Usuga Clan were arrested in several locations on the Atlantic coast.

Crime group financier arrested in Guapi

A man suspected of financing organized criminal groups was arrested by the Colombian National Guard on Tuesday. The assailant, known as 'Mapita', is the alleged head of finance for several groups along the Colombian Pacific coast. He was arrested in the south-western town of Guapi, in the Cauca department.  He is also suspected of carrying out attacks across Colombia, including one against law enforcement agents in the Natural National Park in Gorgona Island in 2014, which left one police officer dead and four others wounded.

FARC clash with Usuga clan in Antioquia

Hundreds of people have been displaced after fighting between guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and fighters from the Clan Usuga group.  The clashes took place in Puerto Lopez in the El Bagre region on Monday.  Two members of Clan Usuga died in the fighting and three civilians were wounded.  Since December there have been repeated confrontations between the two groups, who are both vying for control of territory. 

Dozens of members of the Usuga Clan arrested in Colombia

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos announced on Thursday that 39 members of the Usuga Clan have been arrested. The operations were carried out in nine Atlantic coast regions, leading to the arrest of Edrile Romero Palomeque, known as 'El Negro Andres', leader of the clan in the Alto Ariari region. Furthermore, the authorities seized a large cache of weapons and explosives from the criminal group.

Two dead in Bogota shooting

Two people have been killed and another wounded in a shooting in the Colombian capital, Bogota.  The incident happened in the city's Bochica Sur neighbourhood on Tuesday morning.   Colonel Oscar Pinzon said the assailants fled on motorcycles before police arrived at the scene.

Security forces rescue 33 hostages in Antioquia

The Colombian security forces rescued 33 people being held hostage by members of the Clan Usuga criminal group in Antioquia province last Friday.  The victims were forced from their vehicles overnight on Thursday between Caucasia and Nechi and held for over 12 hours.  Two suspects were arrested following a brief firefight, while troops also recovered weapons and ammunition at the site.

Usuga Clan members block Atlantic Coast highway in armed strike

The Atlantic Coast highway via Medellín was disrupted by armed protesters on Thursday. The protesters, members of the Usuga Clan, blocked several parts of the road, while two police officers were wounded in an explosion after several vehicles on the road were set on fire. The Usuga Clan is an organized criminal group that operates across Colombia carrying out extortion, kidnapping and drug-trafficking activities.

Colombian government and ELN rebels start peace negotiations

The Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group met on Wednesday in Caracas, Venezuela, to jointly announce the start of a new peace agreement. Frank Pearl, acting on behalf of the government, and Antonio Garcia, representing the ELN, stated that they will "directly and uninterruptedly" follow the six-point agenda through consecutive meetings mainly in Ecuador, but also in Chile, Brazil and Cuba. However, the negotiation will only formally begin when the ELN releases all of its remaining hostages. “With this new step we advance firmly toward a complete peace,” President Juan Manuel Santos said in a televised address.  The government has been in negotiations with the country's largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), since 2012.

Two Colombian generals charged over civilian killings

Two Colombian generals have been have been charged for their alleged role in the killings of civilians.  Active general Henry Torres was arrested along with general Mario Montoya, who is now retired, over their role in a scandal that saw deceased civilians disguised to look like guerrilla fighters. Between 2002 and 2008, an estimated 4,000 civilians were killed and presented as guerrillas killed in combat, while some were allegedly targeted because they had spoken out against extrajudicial killings.

Three police officers killed in Cartagena shooting

Three Colombian police officers have been killed and another wounded in a gunbattle with suspected criminals in the city of Cartagena.  One of the armed assailants was also killed in the clash, which was sparked when the police were fired upon in the Pozon district of the city on Saturday afternoon.  The director of the National Police has blamed the incident on the Clan Usuga, one of the largest drug-trafficking groups in Colombia.

Police officer kidnapped in southern Bolivar

The director of National Police, General Jorge Nieto, has confirmed that a police officer was kidnapped by the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the Bolivar department.  The security forces have been deployed to search for Héctor Germán Pérez Monterosa, who was abducted near the Rio Viejo municipality of Tiquisio on Sunday.  The ELN have not confirmed the incident, which occurred on the same day that the group released a captured soldier, Jair de Jesus Villar, as a condition to peace talks with the government.

Three ELN members arrested in Narino

The Colombian army have captured three members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the town of Barbacoas in the Narino department. Along with the arrests, the soldiers also seized a large amount of ammunition, firearms and explosives that would be used to carry out attacks against government facilities, security forces and civilians.  According to a military source, the assailants took part in the bomb attack on the Transandine oil field in February. Friday's operations are part of an ongoing campaign against the ELN by President Juan Manuel dos Santos.

Twelve arrested in anti-narcotics operation in Cartago

A joint operation by the anti-narcotics unit of the National Police and the Panamanian authorities arrested 12 people related to an international drug smuggling scheme. Among the detained was Miro Niemeier Rivanovic, a German citizen linked to "Otoniel", leader of the Los Usuga clan. The ten-month investigation led to the seizure of over 1,000 kilos of drugs and around $200k, along with the arrest of 25 people. The Usuga clan is a paramilitary group based in Urabá, north-eastern Colombia, focused on drug-trafficking activities in Central America.

Five wounded by anti-personnel mines in Arauca

Five people were wounded by anti-personnel landmines near an oil pipeline in north-eastern Colombia. The blast occurred when two security workers, who were guarding the Caño Limón-Coveñas pipeline, stepped on a landmine planted by the National Liberation Army (ELN). Three soldiers who tried to help the injured were caught in another blast. The ELN is trying to agree similar peace terms with the government as the ones achieved by FARC in December.

Seven ELN guerrillas killed in army clashes

Seven guerrillas from the National Liberation Army (ELN) have been killed in clashes with the Colombian army in the western Choco department.  During the operations the military also seized a large cache of weapons during the operation in the village of Munguido in Litoral de San Juan.  The guerrillas belonged to the ELN's 'Ernesto Che Guevara' front.

Four people injured during attempted robbery in Cali

Four bus-passengers were wounded during an attack by armed men in Cali.  Two gunmen targeted the Trans Puerto Tejada bus in the Bochalema sector as it headed from Cali to Jamundi on Tuesday evening.  The bus driver managed to evade the attackers and drove the vehicle to a police station in La Maria, where the wounded were taken for medical treatment.

Three newborns diagnosed with Zika virus

Researchers have found the first cases of birth defects linked to the Zika virus in Colombia. Three newborns were diagnosed with the virus, in one case with microcephaly and the other two with congenital brain abnormalities. The Colombian Collaborative Network on Zika (RECOLZIKCA) are already investigating other suspected cases of microcephaly and its connections with the virus. Colombia, after Brazil, is the country that has the highest amount of confirmed Zika cases and the latest development could signal a wave of birth defects in the country.

Indigenous governor murdered in Popayan

An indigenous governor was killed in an apparent assassination in Popayan on Tuesday.  William Alexander Oime Alarcón, indigenous governor of Rio Blanco, was attacked by armed men in the city centre. He was taken to a local hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries. According to authorities Alarcón was known to oppose the illegal mining companies in the region, who are suspected of being behind the attack. 

Drug-trafficking organisation dismantled in international operation

Colombian National Police and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) dismantled a transnational drug-trafficking group during a joint operation on Wednesday. A total of 12 people were arrested, including several of the group's leaders, known as 'Tana', 'Fantasma', 'Simpson' and 'Caliche'. According to investigations, the group produced and exported more than two tonnes of narcotics each month to countries across Central America, through both air and maritime routes.  In October, 'Yuca', another of the group's leaders, was arrested in Barranquilla.

Four dead in Segovia shooting

Four people were shot dead in northern Colombia on Tuesday. The attack happened in Segovia, a district of Antioquia department. According to the Antioquia Police Commander Wilson Pardo, the shooting was gang-related and the target is believed to be Ober Diaz Guerrero, known as "El Indio". The region has been plagued by the presence of the drug-trafficking group los Urabeños in recent years.

Two police officers killed in ELN attack

Two auxillary police officers have been killed in an ambush by suspected National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels in the Nariño department.  Edison Montoya Ledesma and Jhon Oquendo Camargo were targeted while on patrol in the Bocas de Satinga municipality on Monday.  A civilian was also wounded in the shooting.

ELN guerrillas target infrastructure in northern Colombia

Guerrillas from the National Liberation Army (ELN) have targeted several infrastructure sites across northern Colombia.  The rebels attacked a transmission tower near Aguachica, leaving several cities in Cesar province without power.  The ELN also shot dead a police officer at a restaurant in Ocana and attacked a police post in the Tibu municipality.

Three children wounded in Barranquilla shooting

Three children have been wounded in a shooting in the northern municipality of Barranquilla.  The incident happened in the Rebolo neighbourhood on Thursday when gunmen were attempting to shoot another man.  The children, aged nine, 11 and 14, were playing football in the street when they were hit.  They were taken to Barranquilla General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Multiple shootings in Cali leave three dead

Gun attacks were carried out in three different locations in Cali on Wednesday.  According to the authorities, two men on a motorcycle intercepted a car and fired shots at the fashion designer Lina Otávaro, killing her instantly.  In the Belacazar area of the city, two other suspects shot an alleged drug-dealer, known as "La Jaiba", while he was picking up his child at school.  A third deadly shooting was later reported in the city's Lleras neighbourhood.

Eight police officers wounded in Cucuta blast

Eight police officers have been wounded in an explosion in the city of Cucuta in Norte de Santander department.  The blast occurred at the Lineal Park on Wednesday morning as traders began setting up their stalls in the old public market square.  Authorities are investigating the cause of the explosion and have closed nearby roads.

President Santos warns ELN after attack

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos has said military operations against the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group would intensify following an attack on a military brigade.  "The ELN is dead wrong if it thinks that with attacks like this it can smooth the path to peace," the president said.  He added that the group must release a civilian kidnapped five months ago, along with a soldier captured last week, before the government agrees to a peace process.

Soldier kidnapped in Segovia

The General Command of the Colombian army has confirmed that a soldier was kidnapped by the National Liberation Army (ELN). Jair de Jesus Billar Ortiz, was taken after several explosions in a hydro power station in the north-western Colombian city of Segovia y Remedios. Seven heavily armed men wearing military uniforms fled the area in a pickup truck after the invasion. The conflict between the government and the ELN guerrillas remains active and the progress of peace negotiations is slow.

Two Colombian soldiers killed in ELN attack

Two Colombian soldiers were killed on Sunday in clashes with guerrillas from the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the Norte de Santander department.  The fighting was reported in the municipality of Teorema as the troops were guarding the Cano Limon Covenas oil pipeline when they were targeted with explosive devices.

Zika virus affects 2,000 women in Colombia

More than 2,000 pregnant women have been affected by the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Colombia.  The National Health Institute reported the figures on Saturday, adding that more than 20,000 cases have been confirmed in the country.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the disease, which has been linked to birth defects, is "spreading explosively", with as many as four million cases predicted in 2016.

Two dead in Bogota shooting

Two people died in a shooting in the Colombian capital, Bogota, on Monday evening.  According to witnesses gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a house where drugs were suspected of being sold in the north-western Suba district.  Two other people were wounded in the shooting and taken to hospital for treatment.

Five people murdered in Bogota

Four men and a woman have been killed in the Ciudad Bolivar neighbourhood of Colombia's capital, Bogota.  The Metropolitan Police said the attack appeared to be linked to a dispute between rival drug gangs in the city.  The police have offered a reward of 10m pesos for any information leading to the conviction of the killers.

State of emergency declared in three municipalities in Santander

The authorities in the Colombian department of Santander have declared a state of emergency in three municipalities after the region was affected by severe drought.  The Lebrija, Los Santos and Capitanejo are the regions affected, while a further 15 municipalities are on red alert.  A powerful El Nino in 2015 has been blamed on the widespread water shortage in Colombia and the authorities are taking steps to divert existing supplies to key areas.

Police arrested over kidnapping links

Nine Colombian police officers have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the kidnapping of a family in Antioquia.  The officers were arrested in several cities across the country in connection with the attack in Turbo, Uraba in September, 2014.  Colonel Raul Riano said two of the men arrested last year were an active police sergeant and a retired officer: "These arrests were key to catching the other members of the band".

Police officer killed by ELN in Norte de Santander

A Colombian police officer has been killed in attack by the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the Norte de Santander department.  The officer, Joseph Patrick Hernandez Figueroa, was taken to hospital in the Hacari municipality but died of his injuries.  Police have offered 20m pesos for information leading to the arrest of the culprits.

Senior ELN guerrilla killed by Colombian army

Jose Daniel "One-eyed Lucho" Perez, a senior member of the National Liberation Army (ELN), has been killed in a gunbattle wit the Colombia army.  Perez, 42, died during the clashes in the Santander province on Monday. "Our military and police inflict a heavy blow against the ELN. They neutralized alias One-eyed Lucho and weakened the [rebels'] eastern front," Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said.

Six ELN fighters killed in Bolivar clashes

Six members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) have killed in clashes with the Colombian security forces in the Bolivar department.  Several others suspected guerrillas were arrested during the raid in the town of La Garita on Wednesday afternoon.

Colombian soldier killed in Antioquia attack

A Colombian soldier has been killed and one other wounded in an ambush in the northern department of Antioquia.  The troops were working on a demining project in the remote Briceno region when they were targeted on Thursday.  Officials are investigating who was responsible for the attack.

Four wounded in gang clashes in Cali

Four people have been wounded, including a 13-year-old boy, in a clash between gangs in the city of Cali.  Gunfire was reported in the Potrero Grande neighbourhood in the east of city late on Sunday and continued into the early hours of Monday.  The confrontation was reportedly linked to a missing extortion payment of 20,000 pesos.

Security forces kill 12 suspected drug traffickers

Colombia's Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said at least 12 members of the Usuga Clan drug trafficking group have been killed during a security operation.  Villegas said a large cache of explosives and automatic weapons were also seized during the mission, which took place in a remote area between the departments of Choco and Antioquia.

Local politician killed in Antioquia

Colombian police have confirmed that the chairman of the Democratic Centre party has been killed at his home in the Antioquia department.  Edison Blanco Correa was shot by unknown gunmen in the El Bagre municipality in Saturday evening.  Last week several civil servants in the area received death threats and were ordered to leave the city.

ELN rebels kill 12 security officials in Boyaca

Guerrillas from the National Liberation Army (ELN) have killed 12 security officials in Colombia's Boyaca state. "While we had one of the least violent election days in years (Sunday), the ELN today has slaughtered 11 army troops and a police officer in Boyaca," President Juan Manuel Santos said on Monday. Six people, including two poll workers and an indigenous guide, are also missing following the attack.

Drug lord killed by Colombian airstrike

A prominent Colombian drug trafficker has been killed in an operation by security forces in the remote Catatumbo region.  President Juan Manuel Santos said Victor Navarro, known by the alias "Megateo", saying "criminals either face justice or end in a grave".  Navarro had a $5m US bounty of his head for trafficking offences, while he was also wanted for his role in the leftist guerrilla group the EPL.

Journalist killed during robbery in northern Colombia

A Colombian journalist has been killed during an attempted armed robbery in the northern province of Cesar.  Nimia Pedrozo Esther Pena, 29, was reportedly shot dead when she refused to hand over her purse to a gunman on the Simon Bolivar Avenue in Valledupar.  Police say they are reviewing security camera footage as part of their ongoing investigation.

Fifty-three active forest fires across the country

The number of forest fires in Colombia increased to 53 on Wednesday, as a result of the high temperatures and drought in the country. 19 of the fires are said to be under control. Out of the 32 Colombian Departments, the National Unity for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD) emphasised that nine of them are in a situation of emergency. The most severely affected departments are Cundinamarca, Boyaca, Huila, Tolima, Nariño and Cauca.

Two soldiers and one civilian killed in ELN ambush in North Santander

Two soldiers and one civilian were killed on Monday in an ELN ambush near La Playa de Belén, North Santander department. The soldiers were reportedly on their way to meet a demobilised member of the guerrilla militancy when they were attacked. Out of the five soldiers, two of them were killed, and the rest managed to escape.

Venezuelan military jets enter Colombian airspace

Colombia has accused the Venezuelan government of violating it's sovereign airspace after two Venezuelan military jets reportedly encroached into Colombian airspace on Saturday morning. They reportedly flew over a border military base in the Alta Guajira region before returning to Venezuela. Colombian officials have demanded an explanation from Venezuela, who have yet to comment. "Initially the Venezuelan military planes entered 2.9km (1.8 miles) into Colombian airspace," a statement from Colombia's Ministry of Defence said. The jets then returned to Venezuela and crossed into Colombian airspace again, "flying over a military base in the La Flor region". The planes went 2.3km (1.4 miles) west of the border before flying back towards Castilletes, on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, the statement added.

Journalist shot dead in Huila department

A Colombian journalist has been shot dead in the town of Pitalito in the south-western Huila department.  Flor Nunex Alba, 26, was killed outside the La Favorite FM radio station where she worked.  She had previously received threats for publishing images of criminals during a robbery in the town.

Police arrest eight people over journalist murder

Colombian police have arrested eight people accused of the murder of Carlos Cervantes Luis Solano in the Antioquia Department in August, 2014. "In the last hours four men were captured and reported four others who had already been captured and are being held in prisons" said the Antioquia police commander Colonel Ramiro Riveros.

FARC financial leader and three other militants killed in Meta

The Colombian National Army killed four members of the FARC's 27th front, including "Flaco Duván", financial leader of the organisation. Three other FARC militants were wounded in the attack. The army also seized six rifles, five bulletproof vests and communications equipment. "Flaco Duván" had been a member of the FARC for 13 years. He was responsible for the 2014 kidnapping of five Petrominerales contractors, as well as for leading attacks and burning buses on the Meta-Guaviare axis road. The operation occurred in the department of Meta on September 5.

Two women and one patrolman killed in Cauca

Two women and a police officer were killed in a failed kidnapping attempt in Puerto Tejada municipality, Cauca. According to the Cauca Chief of Police, Édgar Rodríguez, the two women were walking in the centre of Puerto Tejada when they were intercepted and forced into a van by two suspects. Witnesses immediately reported it to two nearby patrolmen, who began chasing the van on their motorbikes. One officer, Carlos Yonier González Mina, managed to throw himself into the back of the van, but the driver lost control and overturned it, killing the two women and the policeman. The the two kidnappers, who were lightly wounded, were transported to hospital where the police are waiting to question them. The identity of the kidnappers is not yet known, and it is believed that the intended target was 83-year-old woman Deyanira Bocanegra Ayala, who was the owner of a famous supermarket chain.

Shooting at Bogota funeral leaves 16 wounded

At least 16 people have been wounded in a shooting at a funeral in the Colombian capital, Bogota.  The incident at the Apogee Cemetery in the south of the city was sparked when a mourner fired several shots into the air.  Police officers responded to the scene, resulting in a gunfight.

Police officer killed in Bolivar department

A Colombian police officer has been killed and three others wounded in an attack in the northern Bolivar department.  The officers, who were part of the Anti-Narcotics Directorate, were hit by an explosive device near the village of Villa Uribe on Tuesday morning.

Colombia and Venezuela recall ambassadors over tensions

Colombia and Venezuela have recalled their ambassadors following days of growing tension between the two nations. More than 1000 Colombians were deported from Venezuela earlier this week. On Thursday Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said it was "unacceptable" and withdrew his envoy. The Venezuelan government followed suit later in the day. Announcing the recall of his ambassador, Mr Santos condemned the expulsions. "I can't allow Venezuela to treat Colombians and the Colombian government in this way," he said. He added that he would call for an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers from the Union of South American Nations. Following this announcement, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez announced that Caracas was recalling its own ambassador from Colombia for consultations. 

Colombians leave Venezuela in droves over border crisis

More than 1000 Colombians living in Venezuela have crossed into Colombia as a border dispute between the two countries intensifies. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a border post near the city of Cucuta. He also announced that Colombians living in Venezuela illegally would be deported. The move followed an incident last Wednesday when smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. President Maduro initially said that the border would be closed for 72 hours, but has now extended the measure indefinitely. According to the Venezuelan authorities, more than 1000 Colombians living there illegally have been handed over to the Colombian authorities. Many others have crossed into  Colombia over the river Tachira, which divides the two countries. Some accused the Venezuelan armed forces of forcing them out of their homes and demolishing them. President Maduro says the forced expulsions are part of a crackdown on smuggling gangs.

Methane blast kills four in Boyaca mine

Four miners have been killed in a methane gas explosion at a coal mine in central Boyaca province. The accident happened near the town of Socha, 250km north-west of Bogota, on Monday. Officials are investigating if the mine was operating legally.

FARC extends unilateral ceasefire

Colombian rebels holding peace talks with the government have extended a unilateral cease-fire, one of their commanders said Thursday. The commander, Carlos Antonio Lozada, one of the FARC guerilla group's negotiators at the talks in Havana, did not specify how long the extension would last. The goal of prolonging the cease-fire - first declared July 20 for one month - is to bolster the negotiations, which have been ongoing since November 2012, Lozada said. The talks are aimed at ending Latin America's last insurgency, which started back in the 1960s with a peasant revolt over gaping economic inequality in Colombia. "We confirm our decision to maintain the unilateral cease-fire," Lozada said.

FARC may extend unilateral ceasefire

On August 18, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) revealed that they were considering extending the unilateral ceasefire agreed upon last month, as long as the Colombian government did not renew air raids on their bases. Rodrigo Grande, a member of the FARC's negotiation team, stated that "I think the country can be at ease... We have seen that in general the situation is going in the direction expected and can continue and improve in the future." The FARC will announce their decision during the next round of peace talks that is due to take place in Havana on August 20.

Sixteen Police officers killed in helicopter crash

A police helicopter has crashed in a jungle area of north-west Colombia, killing at least 16 police officers. The policemen were on an operation to try and arrest one of the leaders of the Usuga Clan, a powerful drug-smuggling gang that operates in the area. The Black Hawk helicopter crashed in a remote mountainous area of Antioquia. The Defence Minister, Luis Carlos Villegas, said it probably "crashed against the side of the mountain, possibly due to low cloud cover." An initial police investigation had blamed the loss of the aircraft on technical failure. The police have confirmed that the aircraft did not crash due to hostile fire, as two other aircraft in the area did not report any gunfire.

Columbia suspends air strikes against FARC targets

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has ordered the government to halt air strikes against FARC rebels days after the FARC began a month-long unilateral ceasefire in an attempt to hasten peace talks. From now on, bombing can only be carried out on the explicit orders of the president.

FARC and government agree de-escalation deal

The Colombian government and the FARC rebel group have agreed to accelerate peace negotiations and de-escalate the conflict.  The government has agreed to scale down military action against FARC guerrillas if the group upholds their promise of a unilateral ceasefire. "It's time to step on the accelerator and that's what we're doing," President Juan Manuel Santos said in a nationally televised address on Sunday night.

FARC announce unilateral ceasefire

The Colombian rebel group FARC has announced a month-long unilateral ceasefire in a bid to rescue peace talks with the government. “With this, we seek to generate favourable conditions to advance with our counterpart to work toward a definitive, bilateral ceasefire,” said the FARC leader Iván Márquez.   Negotiations, which have been taking place in Havana, Cuba for more than two years, were derailed in April when FARC rebels ambushed and killed 10 soldiers.

FARC rebels attack police station in Narino

Members of the FARC rebel group have attacked a police station in the La Esperanza municipality in Colombia's Narino department.  Police chief General Rodolfo Palomino said guerrillas raided the station on Thursday night, while local residents reported several explosions in the area.

FARC militants destroy oil pipeline in Catatumbo

Members of the FARC militant group have destroyed an oil pipeline in northern Colombia.  More than 16,000 people have been left without water in the Catatumbo municipality after a river was contaminated by the oil spill. "The FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], using improvised explosive devices, were able to stop the flow of crude" in one area in Norte de Santander department, in Colombia's north, the army said in a statement. Earlier this week the group ambushed an army patrol in the south-western department of Caqueta, killing four soldiers and wounding four others.

Government troops kill ELN rebel commander

The Colombian army has killed a rebel commander from the National Liberation Army (ELN) in the north-western province of Antioquia.  Jose Amin Hernandez Manrique, known as Marquitos, died in fighting in the rural Segovia municipality. "The narco-terrorist Jose Amin Hernandez Manrique, alias Marcos or Marquitos, head of the Dario de Jesus Ramirez Castro front of the ELN (National Liberation Army) and member of the national management was shot down," said Colombian army commander, General Jaime Lasprilla.

FARC rebels cut power to 500,000 in Caqueta

Rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have brought down an electricity pylon in Caqueta, leaving an estimated 500,000 people without power across the region.  FARC fighters also shot dead three police officers in a separate attack in the region.  The group has resumed its insurgency since they lifted a unilateral ceasefire three weeks ago.

Kidnapped daughter of anti-kidnap chief is released

The 11-year-old daughter of Colombia's anti-kidnap chief has been released by kidnappers.  Daniela Mora was abducted on Thursday as she was being driven home from school in the northern city of Cucuta.  Her father, Diego Mora, is the director of the National Protection Unit (UNP).

Two FARC rebels killed in Narino clashes

Two rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been killed during clashes with government troops in the western department of Narino.  The military said a gunfight took place near the town of Tumaco, around 605km from the capital Bogota.  Elsewhere rebels blew up oil wells and pipelines in the Putumayo province in the south of the country.

FARC peace negotiator killed in airstrike

A negotiator from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was killed in a government airstrike last week.  "We inform the country and the world that comrade Jairo Martinez, a member of the FARC's peace delegation in Havana, and who was on an educational peace mission... was among the guerrillas murdered," rebel commander Pastor Alape told journalists.  The group said at least 40 people have been killed since the government resumed airstrikes them in mid-May.

Peace talks with FARC rebels resume despite fighting

Long-running peace talks have resumed between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Cuba's capital, Havana.  Tensions have been increased since FARC ended its unilateral ceasefire and the government resumed airstrikes against the group, killing at least 26 fighters in Cauca province last week. "Without a doubt, the tragic events are a step backward in what we've achieved up to now at the negotiating table," FARC negotiator Jorge Torres Victoria, also known as Pablo Catatumbo, said. "That's the wrong path and it's obvious that peace will never be reached by escalating the conflict."

Police officer killed in FARC attack

A Colombian police officer has been killed and two others wounded in a bomb attack in the south-western province of Narino.  It is the first attack by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) since they called off a unilateral ceasefire with the government.  On Saturday at least five FARC fighters were killed in a government airstrike in the north-western region of Antioquia.

Army kills 18 FARC rebels in Cauca operation

The Colombian army has killed at least 18 members of the FARC rebel group during military operations in the south-western Cauca region.  A combination of airstrikes and ground troops were used in the raid in Guapi on Thursday, according to officials.  Operations against the guerrillas were restarted when they broke a unilateral ceasefire and killed 11 soldiers last month.

Deadly landslide hits north-west Colombia

At least 33 people have been killed and dozens more wounded in a massive landslide in north-west Colombia. "We have 33 dead, but that figure could increase," said Ines Cardona, director of the disaster response agency in the department of Antioquia. The landslide hit the village of Santa Margarita at 03:00 local time following heavy rain, which caused the river Liboriana to burst its banks.

Army targets illegal FARC mines in Colombia

Colombia's armed forces have raided 63 illegal mines operated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). "Illegal mining generates illicit finances for illegal groups and destroys the environment," Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said after the raids. "We're talking about the heaviest blow to illegal and criminal mining in at least a decade." He said 59 people had also been arrested in the operation.

FARC and ELN leaders meet in Cuba

The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, has confirmed that the leaders of FARC and ELN have met in Cuba.   The aim of the meeting, Santos said on Monday, was "to make progress in our drive to put an end to more than 50 years of armed conflict" which has pitted the FARC and ELN rebel groups against the Colombian government. President Santos also temporarily suspended arrest warrants against FARC's Rodrigo Londoño Echeverry, alias "Timoshenko", and senior ELN leader, Nicolas Rodríguez Bautista, alias "Gabino".

Chikungunya virus kills 25 in Colombia

At least 25 people have been killed by the chikungunya virus in Colombia since July last year.  The National Health Institute said more than 180,000 cases had been confirmed since the illness was first identified less than a year ago. The northern Norte de Santander province has been the most affected by the virus, with 10 confirmed deaths. According to the Pan American Health Organization website, “there is no specific treatment for chikungunya infection, nor any vaccine to prevent it".

Security forces target Usuga criminal network

Colombian security forces have arrested 72 members of the Usuga drug gang in operations across the country.  Police carried out raids in the Antioquia, Chocó, el Valle del Cauca, Sucre, Córdoba and Atlántico departments and arrested six of the groups regional bosses.  Last month President Juan Manuel Santos increased the reward for information leading to the capture of its leader, Dario Usuga, to $600k.

FARC leader killed in military operation

The alleged leader of FARC's 30th Front has been killed in a security operation in the Cauca department.  Julio Calambas Ramos, alias Didier, died during the confrontation in the Lopez de Micay municipality. Admiral Ernesto Duran, commander of the Naval Force of the Pacific, said the military operation was conducted with support from the Air Combat Command No. 7 of the Air Force on the Naya River.

Government resumes air strikes against FARC

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos has ordered the resumption of air strikes against FARC rebels after the group killed 10 government soldiers. "I have ordered the armed forces to lift the suspension of air strikes on FARC positions until further notice," President Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday. "This incident was a product of a deliberate attack by the FARC, it was not a coincidence and this implies a clear rupture of the promise of a unilateral ceasefire," Santos said, after meeting with his defence team in the city of Cali.

Ten Colombian soldiers killed in FARC attack

Ten Colombian soldiers have been killed and 17 others wounded in an attack by suspected FARC guerrillas in the western Cauca province. General Mario Augusto Valencia said the soldiers stationed in an army garrison “were attacked with explosives, grenades and firearms.”  The incident comes a day after another government soldier died in a FARC attack in Antioquia Department, and despite a ceasefire agreement and ongoing peace talks in Havana, Cuba.

Colombian soldiers killed in FARC clashes

A Colombian soldier has been killed and several others wounded during clashes with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the northern Antioquia department.  Around 80 guerrillas from the FARC's Front 18 carried out the attack in a rural area between the municipalities of Ituango and Taraza.  The wounded soldiers were rushed to a medical hospital in Medellin via helicopter.

Police wounded in Bogota bombing

Five police officers and two civilians have been wounded after a bomb exploded in the Colombian capital, Bogota.  The device was remotely detonated in the southern Quiroga neighborhood as a police convoy went past on Thursday. Bogota's police commander, Humberto Guatibonza, said "these rats attacked the police as they were going about their duties". No group claimed responsibility for the attack; although the country's second-largest guerrilla group, the ELN, are suspected of being behind it.

Government halts bombing raids against FARC

The Colombian government has halted bombing raids against the left-wing FARC rebel group as part of the ongoing peace talks between the two sides.  President Manuel Santos added that operations against the National Liberation Army (ELN) would continue.  On Tuesday the ELN released four geologists that were kidnapped in Norte de Santander over a month ago.

Four geologists kidnapped by ELN guerrillas

Four geologists have been kidnapped in northern Colombia by ELN guerrillas.  The victims were working for the Colombian Geological Service when they were abducted in the Norte de Santander area.  In a statement the ELN said they four were taken in order to protect natural resources.

Three Colombian soldiers killed in ELN bombing

Three Colombian soldiers have been killed after their armoured vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Norte de Santander province, near the Venezuelan border.  The army said the device had been planted by the National Liberation Army (ELN), Colombia's second largest guerrilla group.

ELN rebels release Dutch hostage in Colombia

Colombia's ELN rebel group have released a Dutch hostage, more than a year after he was kidnapped.  The unnamed man was handed over to members of the International Red Cross and the Catholic Church in a remote area of Norte de Santander province.  The ELN also said that they have kidnapped the mayor of Alto Baudo town in Choco province, claiming they had abducted him because he was corrupt. "The mayor campaigned on promises to invest in health and education. But once he got in power, he did the same thing as other officials in the province: steal money from the city's coffers," the rebels wrote in a message posted on their website.

Colombian soldier killed in guerrilla clashes

A Colombian soldier has been killed in clashes with suspected FARC guerrillas in the south-western Caqueta Department.  The death of soldier Edward Velasco Medina is the first casualty since a ceasefire was agreed on 20 December, although there were unconfirmed reports last weekend that six troops died in an ambush on New Year's Day.

FARC rebels call indefinite truce

Colombia's FARC rebel group has announced an indefinite, unilateral ceasefire which will begin on 20 December. "We have resolved to declare a unilateral ceasefire and end hostilities for an indefinite period of time, which should be transformed into an armistice," said the group's peace negotiators in Cuba.  They added that the ceasefire "will end only if our guerrilla units have been the object of attacks by the security forces".

FARC releases army general

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have released an army general and two others who were kidnapped along the Atrato river two weeks ago.  General Ruben Aletze, Cpl Jorge Rodriguez and lawyer Gloria Urrego were handed over to a humanitarian mission led by the International Red Committee of the Cross (ICRC) early on Sunday.  Their capture led to Colombia's president, Juan Manuel Santos, suspending peace talks with the guerrilla group.

FARC release two soldiers

The Colombian guerrilla group FARC have released two soldiers taken hostage earlier this month, while also promising to release a kidnapped army general by the weekend.  Cesar Rivera and Jonathan Diaz were both seized in the eastern departments of Arauca, close to the border with Venezuela.  President Juan Manuel Santos halted two-year-old negotiations with the rebels until all of the captives were freed.

Government suspends FARC peace talks over kidnapping

The Colombian government has suspended peace talks with the Colombian FARC rebel group over the kidnapping of an army general over the weekend.  General Ruben Dario Alzate was seized in the Choco department on Sunday afternoon, along with another military official and a civilian.  President Juan Manuel Santos has demanded that the general be released "safe and sound", warning the group that it risked jeopardizing the peace process if it continued to carry out attacks against the army.

Lightning bolt kills 11 in northern Colombia

Eleven members of a Colombian indigenous community have been killed and 19 others wounded by lightning in a remote mountainous area in the north of the country.  The strike hit a ceremonial hut where leaders from the Wiwa ethnic group were carrying out a spiritual harmonisation ritual.  The building near the town of Guachaca burned to the ground.

Eight civilians wounded in FARC attack

At least eight civilians have been wounded in a bomb attack carried out by suspected FARC guerrillas in south-western Colombia.  According to local reports the device exploded on Monday night in the main square in Leyva in the Narino department.

Journalist shot dead in Antioquia department

A Colombian journalist has been killed in the north-western department of Antioquia.  Luis Carlos Cervantes, who worked for Morena FM in Taraza, was shot several times at point blank range by suspected gang members, according to the local police chief.  Until recently the victim had police protection after receiving a series of death threats.

Troops deployed to deal with ELN threat in Arauca

The Colombian military have deployed additional troops to the eastern province of Arauca to deal with a recent wave of attacks by the ELN rebel groups.  The announcement came after a local politician, Pedro Antonio Bohorquez, was shot dead in the city of Saravena, while on Tuesday eight soldiers were wounded when a IED exploded.

Protesters clash with police over water shortages

At least nine people have been wounded in clashes between protesters and riot police in the northern province on La Guajira.  The demonstrators are demanding more government support and humanitarian aid for the region, some of which has not had any rainfall for almost a year.  The protesters - comprised of workers unions, students and minority groups - have formed the "For the Dignity of La Guajira" association and have promised to continue to cause disruption across the state until the government takes them seriously.

Venezuela plans nightly Colombian border closures

Venezuela has announced that it will close the border with Colombia at night in a bid to stop the widespread smuggling of oil and food.  General Vladimir Padrino said that the 2,240km border would be closed between 22:00 and 05:00, starting on Monday.  The government said that tonnes of subsidized goods are smuggled across the border into Colombia and sold at much higher prices.

Buenaventura on alert over FARC attack

The port city of Buenaventura is on alert after suspected FARC rebels attacked several electricity towers, leaving the city's 450,000 residents without power.  President Juan Manuel Santos said the rebel group was "playing with fire" and threatening ongoing peace talks.

ELN rebels killed in clashes in eastern Colombia

At least 13 guerrilla fighters from the National Liberation Army (ELN) have been killed during clashes with the army in eastern Colombia.  A defence ministry spokesman said that eight fighters were killed in an operation in Arauca province, while five more died in fighting in the central province of Meta.  The military said that the ELN have been behind a wave of recent attacks against civilians and infrastructure.

Government holds peace talks with ELN

Colombia's government says it has begun peace talks with the left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group.  The two sides began exploratory discussions in January and have agreed an agenda for formal discussions.  President Juan Manuel Santos has been in negotiations with the country's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), since November, 2012.

Shooting leaves three dead in Bogota

Three people have been killed and another seriously wounded in a shooting in the Colombian capital, Bogota.  Police said the incident happened in the impoverished Potosi neighbourhood on Monday evening and was probably linked to a local gang war.  The assailants escaped from the scene on a motorbike.

Police arrest 46 members of Los Rastrojos crime gang

Colombian police have arrested 46 people accused of being members of Los Rastrojos crime gang.  The gang members have been charged with carrying out various crimes, including drug trafficking and extortion, in the coastal city of Barranquilla.  President Juan Manuel Santos called the operation "the biggest blow against Colombian criminal organisations in a decade".

Children killed in bus fire accident

Thirty-one children and an adult have died after a bus caught fire in northern Colombia.  The victims were returning from an evangelical Christian church near the city of Fundacion when the vehicle broke down and a canister of gasoline exploded.  It has been reported in the local media that the bus might have been used for smuggling fuel.

Ambulance attacked in Antioquia

Gunmen have ambushed an ambulance in the north-western Antioquia Department, killing a female patient who was being treated for a gunshot wound.  The ambulance was transporting Amanda Lucia Betancur, 32, from the village of Puerto Lopez when it was targeted.  The local government secretary suggested that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were responsible for the attack.

Colombian farmers hold anti-government protests

Thousands of Colombian farmers have joined protests across the country to call for the government to deliver promised reforms.  The farmers said the government of President Juan Manuel Santos had failed to reduce debt and regulate prices for fertilizer, which they agreed last August following weeks of protests.

Three police officers killed in FARC ambush

Three Colombian police officers have been killed in an ambush by suspected FARC guerrillas in Caqueta.  The officers were travelling to the town of Cartagena del Chaira when they were attacked by members of the 15th front on Tuesday morning.  On Monday another police officer was killed and four others wounded in an attack by FARC's sixth front in the north-western province of Cauca.

Police officer killed in Cauca bombing

A Colombian police officer has been killed and eight civilians wounded after a grenade exploded in the south-western Cauca department.  The device exploded on Sunday evening when suspected members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) threw the device at a police patrol in the Guapi municipality.

Army targets FARC rebels near Venezuelan border

At least 14 suspected FARC militants have been killed after the Colombian army carried out a joint air and ground offensive on a camp near the Venezuelan border.  The army claims that the rebels were behind and ambush in August that killed 14 soldiers, along with several attacks on oil installations in Arauca province.

Bogota mayor calls for mass protests

The mayor of Bogota has called on his supporters to protest indefinitely after he was sacked last month.  On Friday tens of thousands of people marched in the city in support of Gustavo Petro, a leading leftist and former rebel fighter who was forced from office last month by the country's ultra-conservative inspector general, Alejandro Ordonez.

Thousands rally to support sacked Bogota Mayor

Tens of thousands of people have gathered in the Colombian capital, Bogota, to show their support for the city's former mayor.  Gustavo Petro was sacked last week for alleged mismanagement of refuse collection in the city and banned from holding public office for 15 years.

FARC announces 30-day ceasefire

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have announced that they will be holding a 30-day ceasefire, starting on 15 December.  The left-wing guerrilla group made the declaration a day after its fighters carried out a car bomb attack on a police station in Cauca which killed nine people. 

Car bomb kills eight in south-west

A car bomb has killed at least eight people at a police station in the south-western state of Cauca.  The Colombian security forces claim that the left-wing guerrilla group FARC were behind the attack in the Inza municipality, which killed five soldiers, a police officer and two civilians.

Government reaches political deal with FARC rebels

The Colombian government has moved a step closer to a peace agreement with the left-wing paramilitary group FARC.  The two sides reached a "fundamental agreement" on the rebels' role in a future political arangement, which would pave the way for the group to enter Colombian politics after nearly 50 decades of armed conflict.

FARC rebels release US hostage

Members of the FARC rebel group have released a US hostage, four months after seizing him.  Kevin Scott Sutay, a former Marine, was hiking through a remote southern jungle region to Brazil when he was captured in June.

Colombian governor arrested over gang ties

A provincial governor has been arrested on charges of murder and conspiracy, while he is also being investigated for links to right-wing paramilitary groups.  Juan Francisco 'Kiko' Gomez, the governor of La Guajira province, is accused of murdering a number of political rivals, including Luis Lopez Peralta in 1997.

FARC guerrillas killed in army clashes

Three FARC guerrillas have been killed in clashes with the Colombian army in the northern municipality of Tierralta.  According to a military spokesman the rebels were killed by members of the Nudo de Paramilo task force in the La Changa area.

Bogota bar stampede leaves six dead

At least six people have been killed in a stampede at a crowded bar in the Colombian capital, Bogota.  The stampede was sparked when police officers raided the bar in the early hours of Sunday morning.  According to local reports some 180 people were in the bar which has a capacity of 30.

Troops deployed to Bogota following protests

President Juan Manuel Santos has ordered the military to deploy troops in the capital, Bogota, following a series of violent protests.  At least two people died in the unrest in the city, which began as a rural strike by farmers before spreading across the country.

Santos prepared to enter peace talks with ELN rebels

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said that his government is prepared to enter into peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN).  The rebel group, the country's second largest behind FARC, has recently suggested that they want to negotiate an end to the conflict - including releasing a Canadian national kidnapped back in January.

FARC kills 13 Colombian soldiers ahead of peace talks

At least 13 Colombian soldiers have been killed in an ambush by suspected FARC rebels in the eastern province of Arauca.  The incident comes ahead of the latest round of peace talks between the government and the rebel group in the Cuban capital, Havana.

Deadly grenade attack reported in Cucuta

At least one person has been killed and more than 20 others wounded after a grenade exploded at nightclub in the north-eastern city of Cucuta.  Local police are investigating whether the incident, the seventh such attack this year, is related to the drug gangs who operate in the region.

Soldiers killed in FARC ambush

An ambush by suspected FARC rebels has left 15 Colombian soldiers dead in the eastern Arauca region.  The troops were guarding a pipeline when they were attacked by a group of around 70 rebel fighters.

Colombia kidnapping: Spanish tourists freed by Police

Two kidnapped Spanish tourists have been rescued by police in Colombia while two people suspected of trying to collect a ransom have been held in Spain.  It is unclear who was responsible for the kidnapping.

ELN ambush leaves 10 soldiers dead

At least 10 Colombian soldiers have been killed and six wounded in an ambush in Chitaga in the north-eastern Norte de Santander department.  The regional divisional commander said that another solider was believed to have been abducted by the rebels.

Spanish tourists kidnapped near Venezuelan border

Two Spanish tourists have been kidnapped while driving in the La Guajira department in north-eastern Colombia.  The Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation confirmed that the couple were abducted on Friday, while Spanish media reported that the kidnappers had contacted the family and had demanded a ransom.  The group identified themselves as members of the guerrilla group FARC; however, the group have not claimed responsibility.

Colombia Data Sheet

Population:
46.3 million
Major Religion/s:
Christianity
International dialing code:
+57
International dialing prefix:
00
Emergency services:
123
Drives:
Right
Voltage:
110V
Climate:
Tropical
Ohter Major Cities:
Cali, Medellin, Barranquilla, Cartagena
Borders:
Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador