January 4, 2019 / 2:12 PM / in 6 months

Colombia asks Venezuela to verify presence of certain ELN rebels

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia’s government said on Friday it has asked Venezuela to verify whether certain members of the ELN rebel group are living in the country and to detain them under Interpol red notices if they are.

Colombia has long accused Venezuela’s socialist government of turning a blind eye to the presence of groups such as the National Liberation Army (ELN) in areas close to the two countries’ border.

Former commanders of the rebel group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which demobilized in 2017, were believed to have stayed in Venezuela in a bid to avoid capture.

Colombia sent a note to the government of President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday, the foreign ministry said in a statement, to request Venezuela “verify the presence and continuity in its territory of some members of the ELN.”

If ELN members Eliecer Herlinto Chamorro Acosta, known as Antonio Garcia, Gustavo Anibal Giraldo Quinchia, known as Pablito, and Rafael Sierra Granados, known as Ramiro Vargas, are in Venezuela, Colombia asks that it carry out red notices against them, the statement added. Interpol notices list people wanted for extradition.

The ELN said in a statement on Friday it had successfully completed a 12-day ceasefire during the festive period.

Maduro will be sworn in for a new term next week, after being re-elected in a May election considered a sham by the opposition.

(This story was refiled to fix National Liberation Army abbreviation in second paragraph.)

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Helen Murphy

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