(MENAFN) This week marks the commencement of the fifth round of peace talks between Colombia's government and the left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group in Mexico. Their objective is to bring an end to decades of violence in the country.
However, the peace efforts face a significant challenge following the kidnapping of Luis Diaz's father, the Colombian football star, on October 28. He was released 12 days later. This incident adds complexity to the situation as violence continues to escalate in Colombia, even amid President Gustavo Petro's government engaging in peace negotiations with the country's last remaining armed groups.
Notably, there has been a notable increase in kidnappings in Colombia, with 241 reported between January and September this year compared to 142 in the same period last year. Authorities attribute 32 of these cases to the involvement of the ELN.
“Kidnapping is a crime that carries enormous historical weight in Colombia,” Elizabeth Dickinson, a top analyst for Colombia at the International Crisis Group, reported to a Turkish news outlet.
“The fact that the ELN openly admits that it has not stopped kidnapping – and does not view this as part of an ongoing cease-fire – has raised a lot of questions in the public eye.”
In the aftermath of the kidnapping of Luis Diaz's father, government negotiators have issued a firm demand to the ELN, urging the rebel group to halt the practice of abductions and promptly release all individuals currently held captive.
“The time has come to make decisions that eliminate kidnapping, as we have requested since the beginning of the dialogues. Our delegation demands from now on, and will demand in the next meeting with the ELN delegation, that each of the people that this organization has in captivity be released in conditions of safety and dignity immediately,” mentioned a report released by the administration.
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