Country Reports on Terrorism 2015 - Foreign Terrorist Organizations: National Liberation Army

aka ELN; Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional

Description: The National Liberation Army (ELN) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on October 8, 1997. The ELN is a Colombian Marxist-Leninist group formed in 1964. It is primarily rural-based, although it has several urban units. The ELN remains focused on attacking economic infrastructure – in particular oil and gas pipelines and electricity pylons – and on extorting foreign and local companies. In 2015, the Colombian government continued exploratory talks with the ELN, although formal peace negotiations had not started by year's end.

Activities: The ELN has targeted Colombia's infrastructure, particularly oil pipelines and equipment. The group was responsible for eighty percent of the country's pipeline attacks in 2014. During 2015, the ELN continued kidnapping operations. In January, the ELN kidnapped a Dutch citizen and others in Norte de Santander; they were released in February 2015. On February 11, the group seized two hostages for ransom at a road checkpoint in Choco and on February 24, kidnapped four geologists in Norte de Santander. In October, the ELN attacked a military foot patrol escorting election workers and ballots in Boyaca, killing 11 soldiers and one police officer. Two soldiers were also kidnapped in the attack; they were released on November 16.

Strength: Approximately 2,000 armed combatants and an unknown number of active supporters.

Location/Area of Operation: Primarily in the rural and mountainous areas of northern, northeastern, and southwestern Colombia, as well as the border regions with Venezuela.

Funding and External Aid: The ELN draws its funding from the illicit narcotics trade and from extortion of oil and gas companies. Additional funds are derived from kidnapping ransoms. There is no known external aid.


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