MEDELLIN, Colombia, June 14 (UPI) -- The Colombian armed forces on Sunday said it killed a top commander in a leftist guerrilla group operating in the country's central northwest.
Jose Amin Hernandez Manrique, known by the name "Marquitos," was a high-level leader in the National Liberation Army, or ELN, the BBC reports.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Twitter that "Alias Marquitos, commander of the Dario Martinez front and member of the national leadership of the ELN, has been killed. Congratulations to the armed forces."
Colombia's military said Marquitos, who commanded 13 ELN units in Antioquia and Bolivar provinces, died in a clash in Antioquia.
Comprising about 2,000 armed combatants and an unknown number of active supporters, the ELN is a Colombian Marxist-Leninist group formed in 1964. The U.S. State Department lists it as a foreign terrorist organization, noting it "engages in kidnappings, hijackings, bombings, drug trafficking, and extortion activities."
It is second in size to the better-known Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which is also on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. However, unlike the ELN, FARC leaders have engaged in peace talks with the Colombian government for the past two years.
The FARC announced an end to a five months-long unilateral ceasefire with the Colombian government after 26 rebels were killed in a government air and ground offensive late last month. President Santos authorized the resumed military action after the FARC was suspected of killing nearly a dozen Colombian soldiers in April.
Despite the clashes, FARC officials indicated they would continue negotiating with the Bogota government in Havana, Cuba.
Four days later, a government airstrike killed Alfredo Alarcon Machado, better known as Ramón Ruiz, the leader of the FARC's 18th division.