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FAILED TERRORIST ATTACK ON COLOMBIAN ARMY BASE; NO CASUALTIES, DEVICES DETONATED OUTSIDE BASE AND ECUADORIAN COUNCIL MEMBER ALCIVAR, THREE OTHERS KILLED IN SALON ATTACK AMID RISING GANG VIOLENCE

May 9-15, 2024 | Issue 18 -  SOUTHCOM and Extremism Team

Mrinmoy Routh, Madeline Thompson, Samuel Pearson, Siddhesh Shimpukade, Lydia Baccino

Sophia Hahn, Editor; Christina Valdez, Senior Editor


Car bomb[1]


Date: May 10, 2024

Location: Miranda, Cauca, Colombia

Parties involved: Colombia; Colombian National Army; Commander of the Specific Command of Cauca Brigadier General Federico Mejía; Colombian military forces; Miranda law enforcement; Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissident; Dagoberto Ramos column; Cauca government officials; Miranda municipality authorities; Miranda citizens; El Porvenir residents

The eventA terrorist attack occurred against the Colombian National Army but failed to inflict casualties.[2] Mejía stated that a modified vehicle was equipped with unconventional weapons known as “tatucos” to attack the military base. The attack did not impact military installations located on the base, as the devices detonated outside the military base in the neighborhood of El Porvenir. Authorities attributed the attack to the Dagoberto Ramos column. This incident marked the second terrorist event in Miranda in 2024, following a car bomb attack near a Police station on April 11.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The targeting of a military base is very likely a concerted effort by FARC dissidents to challenge government authority and undermine security to consolidate their power. FARC dissidents very likely aim to inflict maximum damage and instill fear among both the Colombia National Army and Miranda and El Porvenir residents by utilizing modified vehicles and unconventional weapons. Previous attacks in Miranda, such as the car bomb attack near a police station, are very likely a pattern of violence targeting security forces and government institutions. This pattern almost certainly indicates a deliberate strategy by FARC dissident groups to destabilize the region and undermine the government's control over Mirada, posing a risk to the safety of the citizens in the area as security forces expend limited resources to deter and respond to an increase in violent attacks.

  • Using a Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED)/modified vehicle almost certainly adds to the uncertainty surrounding FARC capabilities due to the unique composition of each modified vehicle. FARC dissidents will likely use modified vehicles to evade detection by Colombian security forces through the use of unmarked vehicles or emergency response vehicles that will conceal group members’ identities or deceive observers into mistaking them for friendly or neutral elements.  FARC dissidents will likely use these vehicles’ ability to conceal and deceive to approach government buildings or military sites undetected to attack them through explosives or ramming, which will allow for the possibility of more damage and casualties to the government and citizens.


Date: May 12, 2024

Location: Tosagua Municipality, Manabi State, Ecuador

Parties involved: Manabi law enforcement; Manabi residents; Manabi government; Cantonal Council for the Protection of Rights and Planning; Ecuador National Police; María Paula Alcívar (President of Associación Corazón Diverso and Member of Cantonal Council); criminal groups; armed groups; armed attackers; local LGBTQ+ rights organizations; Associación Corazón Diverso and Member of Cantonal Council (Corazón Diverso - a local LGBTQ+ advocacy group)

The event: Armed attackers killed four people, including Alcivar, at a salon on Saturday afternoon local time. Alcivar, the salon owner, was a member of the Cantonal Council for the Protection of Rights and Planning of Tosagua Canton and President of the Associación Corazón Diverso.[4] No group has claimed responsibility for the attack at the time of reporting. Organized crime has driven violence in Ecuador in recent years through inter-group conflict over narcotics trafficking and extortion.[5] 

Analysis & Implications:

  • The attackers likely intended to intimidate the local community for their own financial benefit. The group’s public act of violence against people in public settings is likely designed to increase community fears of carrying on with normal activities, given the random nature of the attack and its sudden start. The attackers likely intend to coerce Manabi residents into paying their group for protection, grow their financial revenue, and undermine residents’ perceptions of the Ecuadorean government’s capacity to protect them. If successful, the group will very likely expand its violent and extortive activities as they become emboldened by impunity.

  • There is roughly an even chance that the targeted killing had a political angle. With Alcívar being the president of an LGBTQ+ rights organization, some political leaders, particularly those from conservative or anti-LGBTQ+ factions, very likely differ from her views. There is a roughly even chance that political opposition, such as those aligned with traditionalist or right-wing ideologies,  endorsed the attack to be made in public, likely as a power statement and to stop Alcivar from gaining political ground. Crimes targeting people with political agendas or in support of opposing views to the government will likely increase in Ecuador.

  • Further attacks will very likely occur against community hubs, leaders, and gathering places. Criminal groups will likely seek to sideline existing social and political structures to carry out their criminal activities uninterrupted. Targeting the beauty salon very likely extends the groups’ influence into once-perceived safe community areas, while killing community leaders very likely demonstrates those leaders’ vulnerability. Unchecked, this will likely disincentivize the Manabi community and government leaders to confront criminal groups. 

 

[1] Car bomb in Mosul kills four by Spc. Blair Larson, licensed under Public Domain

[2] Attack against the Army in Cauca: a vehicle loaded with explosives detonated in Miranda, Infobae, May 2024,https://www.infobae.com/colombia/2024/05/10/atentado-contra-el-ejercito-en-cauca-un-vehiculo-cargado-con-explosivos-detono-en-miranda/ 

[3] Attention: they report an attack against the Army in Miranda, Cauca, El Tiempo, May 2024,https://www.eltiempo.com/colombia/otras-ciudades/lo-ultimo-atentado-terrorista-en-miranda-cauca-3341965

[4] Una activista LGTBIQ entre al menos cuatro asesinados en masacre en Ecuador, Infobae, May 2024, https://www.infobae.com/america/agencias/2024/05/13/una-activista-lgtbiq-entre-al-menos-cuatro-asesinados-en-masacre-en-ecuador/ [Translated by Google]

[5] GameChangers 2023: Ecuador Loses Its Grip on Crime, InsightCrime, January 2024, https://insightcrime.org/news/gamechangers-2023-ecuador-loses-grip-crime/  

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