The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) killed five contract workers working for state oil company Ecopetrol. Attacking Colombia’s booming oil sector remains one of the rebels’ favored ways to pressure the state.
The attack took place in Puerto Caicedo municipality in Putumayo department (see map). It was reportedly carried out by the 32nd Front, one of the wealthiest and most powerful in the FARC’s Southern Bloc.
The rebels attacked an encampment where at least 30 contract workers were present, using rifles, mortars, and gas cylinder bombs. Three other workers were injured during the assault. The rebels also burned several vehicles. The encampment was based about two and a half hours by road from the major city in the region, Puerto Asis.
On July 3, the FARC carried out a separate attack against an Ecopetrol oil pipeline in the conflicted department of Northern Santander. There were no injuries reported as a result.
The FARC carried out 84 attacks against oil pipelines in 2011 and at least 24 attacks so far this year.
InSight Crime Analysis
The FARC usually carries out aggressive attacks against oil contractors in connection to extortion payment demands. These attacks against subcontractors usually consist of burning vehicles, attacking pipelines, the ambush of oil convoys, or kidnapping employees. This could partly explain by this recent attack in Putumayo against two Ecopetrol subcontractors was particularly aggressive.
The 32nd Front is believed to consist of 80 members and is active in the municipalities of Villagarzon, Puerto Guzman, Puerto Caicedo, and Orito.
View Puerto Caicedo, Putumayo in a larger map