An armed group engaged in peace negotiations with the Colombian government on Friday announced an immediate cessation of all “offensive actions” after two car bombs in as many days killed two people and injured several others.
The so-called Central General Staff (EMC) — a dissident faction of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that disarmed in 2017 — said in a statement it had ordered “all fronts, columns and companies” to “suspend offensive actions throughout the national territory against the security forces.”
The cessation will take immediate effect and until a ceasefire agreed with the government takes effect on October 8, said the EMC, which claimed the first of the two bombings but not the other.
The EMC announcement came just hours after a car bomb exploded outside a police station, injuring five civilians, in Jamundi in the Valle del Cauca department where rebels are fighting soldiers engaged in a clampdown on drug trafficking.
“Reprehensible attack in Jamundi,” President Gustavo Petro wrote on X, formerly Twitter, describing it as a reprisal action.
“We continue to affect illegal economies and the reaction is acts of violence,” he added, vowing that the state “will not yield.”
A police statement said the five injured people were all civilians. One was in a serious condition.
The bomb damaged the facade of the police station and five homes in the vicinity.
Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez pointed the finger at the EMC.
“We have had to go meter by meter, we have taken trenches, in some places there was hand-to-hand combat” he said of the ongoing operation against drug trafficking in the area.
“It is clear that the EMC is trying to… distract, to generate pressure in other places so that we will stop this operation, which we are not going to stop,” the minister told Caracol Radio.
On Wednesday, another car bomb targeting a police station in the same region, killed two civilians.
“We recognize as a mistake the imprecision in this military action in which two civilians were killed and five injured,” said the EMC statement. It did not mention Friday’s explosion.
Wednesday’s attack came just a day after Bogota and the EMC announced they would hold peace talks from October 8 and observe a 10-month ceasefire starting on the same date.
The EMC is made up of former FARC fighters — about 3,500 according to official data — who rejected the 2016 peace agreement between the government and the now-dissolved Marxist rebel group.
It has steadily increased its presence in territories formerly occupied by the FARC and largely abandoned by government forces.
Velasquez said about three-quarters of the EMC’s funding comes from drug cultivation in southwestern Colombia, the world’s largest cocaine producer.
Petro took office last August with a vow to bring “total peace” to a country battered by decades of civil conflict between the state and various left-wing guerrilla groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers.
Bogota is in talks with the EMC and other armed groups.