BUENAVENTURA, Colombia – A group of 24 National Liberation Army, or ELN, guerrillas who demobilized in Choco province arrived Tuesday in Buenaventura, Colombia’s main Pacific port, officials said.
“I want to welcome these 24 ELN members who decided to change their lives. I hope they will set an example for the others,” armed forces commander Gen. Juan Pablo Rodriguez said.
The rebels surrendered to navy personnel on Monday in a rural area outside the city of Pizarro, officials said.
The guerrillas – 14 men and 10 women – belonged to the Cimarron Resistance Front of the ELN, Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla group.
Two commanders and six minors were among the rebels who surrendered, officials said.
“Now, this group of men and women can start a new path from illegality to legality, with the support of the national government,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
The rebels turned in 23 rifles, an M-79 grenade launcher and other weapons, officials said.
A total of 252 ELN members have surrendered this year, while 388 others were captured in fighting and 46 were killed in action, the armed forces said.
On Oct. 10, the government and the ELN said they would begin the public phase of peace talks on Oct. 27 in Quito, Ecuador.