Colombia’s ELN rebels on Monday justified last week’s terrorist attack in Bogota that cost the lives of 21 people as “legal within war law.”
In a statement, the guerrillas did not assume explicit responsibility for the attack on the General Santander police academy, but said “the realized operation on such installations and forces is legal within war law.”
The Academy of the National Police is a military installation; it is where the officials who later carry out combat intelligence, carry out military operations, actively participate in the counter-insurgency war and militarily respond to social protest receive instruction and training.
The guerrillas said that “in our camps, that are bombed in the case of any neglect, combatants and officials are also trained.”
According to the ELN leadership, the military bombed guerrilla camps on Christmas day when the rebels were upholding a unilateral ceasefire.
So, it is quite disproportionate that while the government attacks us, it suggests that we can not respond in legitimate defense.
The ELN asked President Ivan Duque, who ended peace talks on Friday, to rethink his position on refusing to talk to the guerrillas, whose leaders have in Cuba for talks since last year and have repeatedly urged the president to resume peace talks he suspended when taking office in August last year.
President Duque, we would like to reiterate that the path of war is not Colombia’s future, peace is, and we therefore remind you that the best thing for the country is to send your delegation of dialogues to the table, in order to give continuity to the Peace Process and to the construction of the agreements that we brought from the previous Government; a path of political solution to the conflict supported by the majority of Colombian society and the international community.
The attack on the police academy further deepened divisions in Colombian society where the majority of people supported a negotiated end to the 54-year-old armed conflict ahead of the attack, but were opposed by Duque and has conservative and far-right political allies.