At least 18 people were killed in Colombia in clashes between holdouts from the former rebel army FARC and another armed group linked to drug trafficking, the government said Sunday.
The government ombudsman’s office said the fighting occurred on Saturday in southwest Colombia, near the border with Ecuador.
The clashes involved rebels who have rejected a 2016 peace agreement that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed with the government and a criminal band that calls itself Comandos de la Frontera, or Border Commandos.
The latter is composed of other fighters that used to be with FARC and remnants of a right-wing paramilitary group active in trafficking cocaine to Ecuador and Brazil.
The two groups have fought for control of smuggling routes in parts of the Putumayo border area for at least three years.
Saturday’s fighting occurred in Puerto Guzman, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the southern border with Ecuador, the ombudsman’s office said.
Colombia has suffered more than half a century of armed conflict between the state and various groups of left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers.
President Gustavo Petro’s government is scheduled to resume peace talks Monday in Caracas with the ELN, Colombia’s last active rebel army, after a four-year hiatus.
Petro’s administration and the much smaller renegade faction of the FARC involved in Saturday’s fighting, known as the Carolina Ramirez Front, have held exploratory peace talks aimed at a truce.
Under those talks, the faction said it would rein in attacks on security forces, with an eye on a bilateral ceasefire.