AMERICA/COLOMBIA - The Archbishop of Barranquilla on the latest attacks: "Peace and reconciliation, the Colombians’ desire"

Monday, 29 January 2018 armed forces   peace   reconciliation   wars   human rights  


Barranquilla (Agenzia Fides) - "Events like these cannot intimidate us, they cannot make us fall into despair. We are all called to live together, to live as brothers and we must respect each other taking into consideration the value of everyone’s life", said Mgr. Pablo Emiro Salas Anteliz, Archbishop of Barranquilla, in a statement released by the Colombian Episcopal Conference (CEC), sent to Agenzia Fides, which refers to the attacks against three police stations in less than a day on the Caribbean coast of the country.
The first explosion occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, January 27, against San Jose police station in the south of Barranquilla, and caused the death of five policemen and injured 41, some of them in serious condition. On the evening of the same day another attack took place against Buenavista police substation in Santa Rosa, south of Bolivar, which killed two policemen, and on Sunday morning, January 28, a third explosion at the police station of the municipality of Soledad, Atlántico, causing the injury of 7 people.
"We have put all the victims of these attacks in the hands of the Lord. Embracing fraternally all those who have lost their loved ones" continues the Archbishop, we encourage everyone so that these facts do not affect the path to peace and that "the Lord allows us to continue to build peace and reconciliation, which is the deepest desire of all Colombians", insists Mgr. Salas Anteliz in his message.
On Sunday, January 28, ELN (National Liberation Army) claimed the responsibility for Saturday's attack at the police station in Barranquilla through one of its Twitter accounts. The guerrillas issued a statement whose veracity is being verified by the authorities, in which they say they are responsible for the attack. Investigators are trying to determine whether they are urban militias belonging to this guerrilla group who remain active and act autonomously or whether they have contacts with the ELN Central Command.
Father Darío Echeverri, secretary general of the National Reconciliation Commission, one of the Church leaders following the peace process, in recent statements to the local press said that the ELN group does not seem to realize the opportunities they are wasting to relaunch the dialogues at the peace table (see Fides 16/01/2018). Father Echeverri is one of the protagonists of the 101-day "historic truce" to bring humanitarian aid, especially to the provinces of Arauca, Chocó, Norte de Santander and Nariño. However, ELN has carried out some violent actions against the Colombian infrastructures, thus putting an end to any possibility of extending the ceasefire established at Christmas 2017. (LG) (Agenzia Fides, 2018/01/29)