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Guerrilla Attacks in Southwest Colombia Surge Ahead of Peace Talks

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro called on guerrillas to suspend attacks after allegedly killing four police officers in the southwest of the country.

Petro made the call after presiding over a security council meeting in the southwestern Cauca province.

The meeting had been called after a wave of attacks against police in rural parts in the northern Cauca region.

The attacks were allegedly carried out by guerrillas of the EMC, a group founded in 2016 by “Ivan Mordisco,” a former commander of the now-defunct rebel group FARC.

The attacks were carried out on the same day the government’s Peace Commissioner’s Office announced that peace talks with the EMC would begin on September 17.

On Thursday, both the security forces and the guerrillas are expected to cease attacks against each other and the civilian population throughout Colombia.

Neither kidnapping, nor confinement, extortion, massacres, the deaths of social leaders or [former] combatants who have signed the peace agreement, and the attacks on indigenous communities and their Afro or mestizo authorities may be allowed as a prelude to a peace agreement.

President Gustavo Petro

The cessation of attacks is expected to be upheld while negotiators seek to come to a bilateral ceasefire agreement to succeed an expired six-month ceasefire that took force on January 1.

In order to secure a reduction of violence in Cauca, the president also announced a project to substitute illicit coca crops with legal ones.

Because of its geography, climate and location, the province has long been of strategic importance for illegal armed groups involved in drug trafficking.

I hope for the support of the peasantry of Cauca, of the social, indigenous and Afro-descendant movements in these types of zones in order to definitely get out of the economic basis of violence. The violence in the Cauca province has an economic basis. If that economic basis is replaced, the violence will gradually die down.

President Gustavo Petro

The EMC, which controls large swathes of territory in Cauca, is believed to have some 3,200 armed fighters who violently impose state authority in half of Colombia’s provinces.

Following the election of Petro last year, the president and the guerrillas have expressed their interest to negotiate an end to the EMC insurgency.

Source : colombiareports