Following a deadly suicide truck bombing on a police academy near Bogota, the president of Colombia has called on Cuba to arrest 10 commanders of the Colombian ELN rebel group who are in Havana.
Ivan Duque said late Friday he is asking Cuba to “capture the terrorists who are inside its territory and hand them over to Colombian police.” He said no ideology could justify the cruelty of Thursday’s attack.
“It’s clear to all of Colombia that the ELN has no true desire for peace,” Duque said Friday in a televised address.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, said in a statement, that Cuba “will act with strict respect for the Protocols of Dialogue and Peace signed by the Government and the ELN, including the Protocol In Case of a Rupture in Negotiations.”
The ELN commanders have been in Cuba following stalled peace talks there with Colombia.
Colombian authorities say Jose Aldemar Rojas, a one-armed ELN explosives expert, carried out the attack that killed 21 people and wounded dozens more. Officials say Rojas died in the attack.
“This was an operation that has been planned for the past 10 months,” said Defense Minister Guillermo Botero.
Largest rebel group
The ELN has not claimed responsibility for the attack.
The rebel group, however, has increased attacks on police since peace talks in Cuba stalled when the rebels refused to heed the government’s demand to free all hostages.
ELN is now the country’s largest armed rebel group since FARC disbanded and turned into a political party as part of a peace deal with the government.
Despite a long history of guerrilla violence in Colombia, major terrorist bombings in the country have been rare.