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article imageELN rebels claim responsibility for deadly Bogota bombing

By AFP     Feb 27, 2017 in World

Colombian ELN rebels claimed responsibility late Sunday on Twitter for a February 19 bombing in Bogota that killed a police officer and seriously wounded several others.

The attack outside a bullring followed the start of talks this month between the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), which aim to end to five decades of conflict.

The government of President Juan Manuel Santos said that the ELN was "very mistaken" if it thought it could pressure the government into a cease fire with attacks like this.

"The ceasefire will be reached when the ELN understands that it is reached by de-escalating, not escalating the conflict," the government's negotiator in talks with the ELN, Juan Camilo Restrepo, wrote on Twitter.

Santos is trying to achieve a "complete peace" by seeking a deal with the ELN, the last active Colombian rebel group. Preliminary talks with the rebels opened on February 7 in Ecuador.

Santos signed a historic disarmament accord last year with the country's largest rebel force, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Both leftist rebel groups took up arms in 1964 at the start of a conflict that drew in various groups. The authorities say the conflict has killed 260,000 people.

The ELN had earlier said that none of its units had owned up to the attack at the Plaza Santamaria bullring, which officials said injured 24 police officers -- one of whom later died -- and two civilians.

However, Bogota's Mayor Enrique Penalosa said the bombing bore similarities to other attacks in Bogota claimed by the ELN.

Penalosa ruled out the possibility that animal rights campaigners carried out the bombing in protest at the resumption of bullfights at the ring.

The ELN also claimed responsibility for a February 14 attack on a military patrol in eastern Colombia that wounded at least two soldiers, as well as several bombings on the Cano Limon Covenas oil pipeline.

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