From the U.S. Department of State: National Liberation Army (ELN)--Colombia Description Marxist insurgent group formed in 1965 by urban intellectuals inspired by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Began a dialogue with Colombian officials in 1999 following a campaign of mass kidnappings--each involving at least one US citizen--to demonstrate its strength and continuing viability and to force the Pastrana administration to negotiate. Bogota and the ELN spent most of 2000 discussing where to establish an ELN safehaven in which to hold peace talks. A proposed location in north central Colombia faces stiff local and paramilitary opposition. Activities Kidnapping, hijacking, bombing, extortion, and guerrilla war. Modest conventional military capability. Annually conducts hundreds of kidnappings for ransom, often targeting foreign employees of large corporations, especially in the petroleum industry. Frequently assaults energy infrastructure and has inflicted major damage on pipelines and the electric distribution network. Strength Approximately 3,000 to 6,000 armed combatants and an unknown number of active supporters. Location/Area of Operation Mostly in rural and mountainous areas of north, northeast, and southwest Colombia and Venezuela border regions. External Aid Cuba provides some medical care and political consultation.
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Last update:January 2, 2007 at 16:52:44 UTC