Reports indicate that on December 5 security services arrested Edwin “Zarco” Molina Ceballos, a prominent member of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Montería, Córdoba. Authorities accuse Molina of being involved in the killing of several social activists, and of participating in illegal mining activities and drug trafficking. Subsequently, on December 7, the group reportedly released an underage girl it had purportedly kidnapped days prior in Catatumbo, near the border with Venezuela. Finally, during early morning hours of December 8, armed individuals reportedly intercepted at least six vehicles in two points along the Highway 25 connecting Medellín to Caucasia. Militants wounded a driver who refused to stop his vehicle. Sources indicate security forces are currently engaging the ELN in the area. On November 10 militants carried out a similar assault in the Cesar Department.
Considering that security forces are engaging the ELN in the area, and that the group has previously conducted similar assaults against drivers, it is highly likely that it was involved in the incidents transpired along the Highway 25. While it is likely that the said assault came as retaliation for the arrest of Zarco in Córdoba, the fact that it transpired along a central highway, connecting Medellin with the Atlantic, is indicative of the group’s capabilities. In turn, the release of the girl is potentially meant as an overture toward the government, which demands the release of all captives before considering appointing a representative to peace talks.