Three Venezuelans were shot dead in northeastern Colombia Sunday in an attack blamed on the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerilla group, official sources said.
The three were killed by suspected rebels traveling by motorcycle in Tibu, near the Venezuelan border, police said in a statement.
The suspects had earlier attacked a police station in the same area, but nobody was wounded, the statement added.
The Norte de Santander department, where Tibu is located, is one of Colombia’s biggest areas for coca growing, and several drug-trafficking factions operate in the area.
The ELN began peace talks with President Juan Manuel Santos’s government a year ago in the Ecuadoran capital Quito, but he suspended negotiations at the end of January and ordered a stepped-up military response after bomb attacks blamed on the guerrillas.
Santos, who will leave power in August after two four-year terms, is looking to reach a deal with the ELN similar to that agreed with FARC rebels, who have since disarmed and transformed into a political party.
Relations between Colombia and Venezuela, which share a 2,200 kilometer (1,400 mile) border, are tense as Colombia deals with the arrival of thousands of Venezuelans fleeing the country’s economic and humanitarian crisis.
According to Colombian immigration authorities, around 550,000 Venezuelans are in the country — a figure it said could rise to one million by mid-2018.