Colombia's ELN guerrillas deny alleged plot to kill Attorney General

Colombia's ELN guerrillas deny alleged plot to kill Attorney General

Leftist rebel group said to have planned assassination attempt with snipers against Francisco Barbosa

By Laura Gamba

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - The National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group denied Thursday that it plotted to kill Colombia's Attorney General Francisco Barbosa.

The Attorney General's office reported Tuesday an alleged attempt by the guerrilla group to assassinate Barbosa with snipers days after a cease-fire with the government took effect.

"Three sources of information ... indicated that there will be a terrorist attack against the nation's Attorney General, Francisco Barbosa," his office said in a statement. The plot was uncovered by military intelligence and two offices focused on criminal organizations, it said. “Last July a meeting was held in Venezuela between five high-ranking ELN commanders. In that country, members of that organized armed group were being trained to carry out an attack with snipers.”

The ELN denied planning an attack but accused Barbosa of “sabotaging” peace talks that have been ongoing between the government and the guerrilla group since President Gustavo Petro was elected last year.

"The news delivered by prosecutor Barbosa is false. With it he is trying to sabotage the dialogue process that is taking place between the government and the ELN," it said.

Less than a week ago, a six-month cease-fire between the government and the ELN entered into force after months of negotiation with the country’s largest remaining armed rebel group.

Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva said Wednesday that the alleged ELN assassination plot against Barbosa could be, if proven, "a bomb" against the peace process.

Although the Attorney General has been a critic of the president's efforts to negotiate with insurgents, he has suspended 19 arrest warrants against ELN leaders to allow them to be part of the peace conversations.

Barbosa said Wednesday that he was not surprised that the group denied involvement in the attempt.

"One cannot be so foolish as to say that they are claiming responsibility for an event like this. I don't know that a criminal organization comes to take responsibility for an act. They would say that it is not in their plans. What is certain is that we have an open investigation," he told reporters.

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