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The Government attributes to the guerrilla ELN attacks against the police in Colombia

Ⓒ AFP/Archivos – Luis Robayo – | Members of the ELN guerrilla group form a camp located in San Juan River, northwest Colombia, on November 19, 2017

The ELN guerrilla is responsible for the attacks that left seven policemen dead and dozens wounded in Colombia over the weekend, the defense minister said on Monday, about attacks that put the future of peace talks in suspense.

“I can say that the authorship of these terrible acts of terrorism is at the head of the National Liberation Army (ELN),” said Luis Carlos Villegas in an interview with Caracol Radio.

Villegas said that the three attacks with explosives on Saturday and Sunday in the north of the country, in which at first were identified drug gangs, “are having a direct relationship.”

A Guevarista guerrilla front claimed responsibility for the attack on a police station in the port of Barranquilla on Sunday, where five agents were killed on Saturday and 41 others wounded.

President Juan Manuel Santos wrote on Twitter that he was “confirming the veracity” of the rebel bulletin.

Due to this fact, the authorities captured Cristian Bellón, 31, as suspected of having activated the bomb that killed the five agents. “This person has a clear record with the ELN,” said the minister.

Bellón had been captured in 2015, but a judge released him on the grounds that he had not been granted due process, he added.

Villegas said that Santos and part of his negotiating team are in “consultations” from “very early hours” to define the future of the negotiations, installed in Quito last February.

“In the next few hours” the president will give instructions on the dialogues or an eventual offensive against the rebels, the official explained.

The other two attacks were also executed on Sunday against police stations.

In the municipality of Santa Rosa, department of Bolívar, an explosive charge exploded that killed two policemen and left another wounded.

Also in Barranquilla, which is preparing for its traditional carnival, four uniformed and one civilian were injured in an attack on a command post.

The dialogues with the ELN have been suspended since January 10, when the rebels, recognized by the government as the country’s last guerrilla, launched an offensive against the public forces and the oil infrastructure.

The breakthrough occurred after the end of the first bilateral truce and when the fifth round of talks was scheduled to begin.

Santos called for consultations with his chief negotiator, Gustavo Bell, with whom he is meeting on Monday, to define the future of the talks.

The president intends to sign with the ELN a pact similar to that reached at the end of 2016 with the powerful FARC, already disarmed and now transformed into a political party.

Colombia is experiencing an armed conflict that, in half a century, has left some eight million victims among the displaced, dead and disappeared.

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