Alleged Colombia Assassination Plot Casts Shadow Over Peace Talks

Alleged Colombia assassination plot casts shadow over peace talks

Bogot�, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 10th Aug, 2023 ) :Colombia's last active guerrilla group on Wednesday denied they were plotting to kill the country's attorney general, a charge that had cast a shadow over a peace process between the insurgents and the government.

The Colombian government resumed peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN) after President Gustavo Petro was elected a year ago, with the leftist leader seeking to put an end to decades of armed conflict with guerrilla groups.

A six-month ceasefire came into force last week, and further talks are planned for August 14 in Venezuela.

However the opposition, critical of efforts to negotiate with guerrilla groups, called for the talks to be called off after the office of Attorney General Francisco Barbosa alleged on Tuesday that the ELN was planning "an attack with snipers" against him.

Dismissing the allegation as "false," the guerrilla group wrote on social media that it was "an attempt to sabotage the talks taking place between the government and the ELN." Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva, speaking on the sidelines of an Amazon summit in the Brazilian city of Belem, called for a "thorough" investigation into the accusation.

Venezuela's foreign ministry expressed its "deep concern" over what it dismissed as rumours seeking to "undermine the peace process".

The attorney general's office alleged the assassination plot was uncovered by military intelligence and two offices focused on criminal organizations.

"According to information from these sources, last July a meeting was held in Venezuela between five high-ranking ELN commanders," the attorney general's office added.

"In that country, members of that organized armed group were being trained to carry out an attack with snipers." Colombia has suffered more than half a century of armed conflict between the state and various groups of left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers.

The attorney general Barbosa is among those critical of the government's efforts to negotiate with the insurgents.

"How can you make peace with a group that threatens to kill the country's attorney general?" asked rightwing former president Alvaro Uribe.

Congresswoman Paloma Valencia recommended "suspending the talks with the ELN", which according to official figures had at least 5,800 combatants in 2022.

The ELN started as a leftist ideological movement in 1964 before turning to crime, focusing on kidnapping, extortion, attacks and drug trafficking in Colombia and neighboring Venezuela.

If it holds, the ceasefire would be the longest ever agreed to by the ELN, which has taken part in failed negotiations with Colombia's last five governments.