Colombia’s second largest rebel group, ELN, has declared oil workers in the eastern Arauca department a “military objective,” according to local authorities.

A number of barracks housing oil workers and their families were sprayed with messages Thursday saying they “could risk [their] lives or those of [their] families” if they kept working in the area. Local authorities said that left-wing rebels from the ELN guerrilla group were behind the threats, reported Spanish news agency Europa Press.

It follows the Tuesday attack of three buses transporting 120 oil workers, thought to have been be carried out by ELN guerrillas. No one was hurt.

John Fredy Peña, the mayor of the Saravena municipality in Arauca where the alleged guerrilla actions took place, said that the threats affected “everybody” and not just the oil industry.

“We are going to meet with representatives of the workers and the authorities to take measures because we cannot allow that this gets out of hand,” Peña told newspaper El Colombiano.

According to the Colombian NGO Nuevo Arco Iris, the ELN rebels have largely replaced the state institutions in parts of the Arauca department.

From Colombia Reports

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