Presumed guerrillas have opened fire at two civilian helicopters that were flying repairmen to the site where leftist rebels had damaged an oil pipeline in the north of Colombia, state-run oil company Ecopetrol claimed Sunday.
The oil company told Spanish news agency EFE that the helicopter was attacked by sniper fire while flying over Tibu, the municipality where rebel group FARC allegedly blew up the pipeline.
The alleged sniper hit target and caused minor damage, forcing the helicopters, a Bell 412 and a MI 171 belonging to the Colombian Helistar company, to return to the airport of Tibu.
None of the men on board the helicopters was injured in the attack.
The area where the attacks on the pipeline and helicopters took place, Catatumbo, has a strong presence of a number of guerrilla groups.
Both the FARC and the ELN, like the much smaller EPL group, are active in the area that also counts on presence of neo-paramilitary drug trafficking organization Los Urabeños.
The FARC, Colombia’s largest rebel group, unleashed a wave of bomb attacks on oil pipelines and security forces after an airstrike killing 27 guerrillas on May 21.
Despite the recent uptick in violence, negotiations between the government and the FARC continue in Havana.
The rebels and the government have since the beginning of the talks in November 2012 signed partial agreements on political participation, rural reform and the FARC’s abandoning of drug trafficking.
Before an eventual deal to end more than 50 years of conflict is signed, the negotiating teams in Havana, Cuba will have to agree on two more agenda points: Victims and End of Conflict.
These negotiations have been slow as neither party seems to know how to adequately punish war crimes committed by both parties in the past five decades and how to compensate the more than 7 million victims of the violence.
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