Colombian government suspends peace negotiations after attacks by country's last rebel group

UN Secretary General visits Colombia to boost confidence in peace process with ELN

Rafael Andres Rian, a 41-year-old Colombian petroleum engineer was abducted from an office in Saravena, near the border with Venezuela, by "two masked men with pistols who identified themselves as members of the ELN", police said in a statement.

Guterres encouraged the parties to maintain a "deep dialogue" for the peace of the country, despite the possible "decrease in confidence" between both delegations following the suspension of talks and the expiration of the temporary ceasefire.

President Juan Manuel Santos has suspended peace negotiations with Colombia's last rebel group following attacks on its armed forces and an oil pipeline - throwing fragile peace talks with the ELN into jeopardy.

The kidnapping took place just ahead of the arrival in Bogota of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who supports peace negotiations between the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels.

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Military control of the area, which will be accompanied by investment to reduce poverty and coca eradication and substitution programs, is essential to guarantee a stable peace with the FARC and prevent other armed groups from strengthening, Santos said.

The United Nations monitored a ceasefire with the ELN until its expired on Tuesday and violence resumed. The attacked occurred hours after a 102-day bilateral cease-fire ended. As part of the deal, agreed in September, the Cuban-inspired rebels had pledged to stop all hostage-taking, the recruitment of minors, the use of landmines and attacks on infrastructure.

In turn, the ELN denounced the government's failure to combat the increasingly frequent murders of social leaders.

Ministry of Defense officials said Thursday they had detected 12 ELN assaults since the cease-fire's end including four attacks on oil pipelines, a grenade launch that left two marines injured and the shooting death of a soldier.

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