Colombian Army kills five rebels, rescues hostages

July 14th, 2008 - 6:49 am ICT by IANS  

Bogota, July 14 (IANS) Colombian troops have killed five suspected members of the country’s second largest leftist guerrilla group and rescued five people being held hostage by them in northwestern province of Antioquia, EFE news agency reported Monday. The killed guerrillas belonged to the finance unit of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, during an operation Sunday, the 4th Brigade of Colombian Army said.

The rebels, who were also involved in trafficking cocaine, were holding three men and two women hostage.

The ELN unit, according to the army, prevented residents from moving around freely, telling them that if they left the area they could enter a mine field.

The ELN has waged a four-decade insurgency against a succession of Colombian administrations. Several attempts to negotiate peace with the group in the 1990s and earlier this decade broke down after weeks or months of talks.

The most recent peace process between the ELN and government started in 2005 and was suspended last August due to differences over various issues.

The 5,000-member ELN, founded in 1964, is the second-biggest guerrilla group in the South American country after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

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