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Colombian forces detain militant on October 8 suspected of ordering killings of three geologists

Reports indicate that on October 8 security forces arrested a militant belonging to a dissident unit from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in San José de la Montaña, a locale in northern Antiquía. Locally known as “Garbanzo”, the militant was reportedly apprehended while he was collecting ransom money from local inhabitants. The militant was reportedly responsible for ordering the killings of three geologists employed by a Canadian mining company in Yarumal on September 19. According to eye-witness reports, between 10 and 15 armed militants entered the camp where the geologists were conducting mining exploration activities. Survivors of the incident allegedly corroborated the identity of Garbanzo. Additional reports indicate that on October 14 army elements neutralized two militants in the same locale where Garbanzo was apprehended. While one of them supposedly belonged to FARC dissidents, the other one was a member of the National Liberation Army (ELN).

These developments highlight efforts by security forces to secure isolated areas which nevertheless hold strategic importance due to large mining activity and potential. That said, FARC dissidents and members from the ELN will most likely remain in the region, continuing to capitalize on Colombia's challenging topography. Following the peace deal between the government and FARC in 2015, elements opposing demobilization established close alliances and cooperation networks with the ELN. Taking into account that militants have a consolidated presence in the area, further security incidents are likely to take place.

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