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World News

Colombia kills top ELN commander in military operation

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombian security forces have killed a top National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel commander known best by his nom de guerre Uriel, during an operation in the coastal Pacific province of Choco, President Ivan Duque said on Sunday.

Uriel, known for his media appearances, online videos and one-time Twitter account, was responsible for kidnappings, the murders of human rights activists and members of the security forces and forced recruitment of minors, Duque said in a broadcast with police and military leaders on Sunday evening.

“The terrorist Andres Felipe Vanegas Londono, who used the alias Uriel, has been downed,” Duque said. “This criminal was killed in a meticulous operation of shared intelligence by the national army of Colombia and the national police.”

Uriel used his social media to “defend crime,” Duque said, as he called for other ELN members to demobilize.

The ELN, founded in 1964 by radical priests, are considered more radical and less centrally controlled than the FARC rebels, who signed a peace deal in 2016 and are now a legal political party.

The ELN, which has about 2,000 fighters, began peace talks with the previous government, but negotiations fell apart after a car bombing in Bogota and Duque demanded that the guerrillas release all its hostages.

The government recently announced the capture of eight rebels it accuses of taking part in the bomb attack, which killed 22 police cadets in early 2019.

Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra and Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Richard Chang

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