The Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group denied preparing an attack on top prosecutor Francisco Barbosa on Wednesday and requested a special meeting of the commission managing its truce with the government.
On Tuesday, Barbosa’s office stated it was looking into a sniper attack on him, which would be carried out by an urban guerrilla cell.
The ELN, a Marxist group that has fought the state since 1964, and the government of leftist President Gustavo Petro less than a week ago began a six-month ceasefire as part of peace talks to end the rebels’ part in Colombia’s conflict.
“The news announced by Attorney General Barbosa is false. With it, he attempts to sabotage the dialogue process that is developing between the government and the ELN,” the group’s negotiating team said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
“The ELN has requested an extraordinary meeting today of the monitoring and verification mechanism to examine the situation created by the false accusations of the attorney general, which creates great difficulties in the development and confidence of the process,” the ELN added, referring to a commission set up to verify that both sides comply with the ceasefire.
Barbosa has publicly opposed many of Petro’s peace promises, including a pending law which would reduce prison sentences for crime gangs who surrender, recognize their crimes and offer reparations to victims.
Deputy Attorney General Martha Janeth Mancera denied in comments to journalists that the office was trying to sabotage peace talks, saying it has suspended 29 arrest warrants against ELN members to facilitate their participation in the talks.
The ELN negotiations have advanced further than any of Petro’s other peace-building efforts, and the group’s leadership has repeatedly stressed that its members are united in their desire to seek a peace deal.
Previous negotiations have faltered due to continued violence, including a 2019 bombing which killed 22 police cadets, dissent within the ELN’s ranks, and its radical demands.