Colombian news outlets Tuesday reported the death of Ogli Ángel Padilla Romero, also known as Fabián, one of the commanders of the National Liberation Army (ELN), the last guerrilla group still active in the country.
Inspired by Argentine iconic revolutionary leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Cuban revolution and Liberation Theology, and a radical spinoff from the Catholic Church in favor of the poor, the ELN accumulates almost 60 years of an unsuccessful armed uprising.
Fabián reportedly died of wounds from a military bombardment carried out two weeks ago, Defense Minister Diego Molano explained. He had been the target of a bombing on Sept. 18 which left seven dead and many others wounded in the Chocó department (northwest). The leader was found in serious condition in the jungle near the site of the attack, and died later at a hospital, Molano told the media.
”He was found injured, covered with bushes and vegetation yesterday (Monday). He was very close to the place where the air operation took place,” said Molano. He later died while receiving medical attention in the city of Cali (southwest).
Colombian President Iván Duque also confirmed through his Twitter account that the narco-terrorist alias 'Fabián', murderer of social leaders, drug trafficker and top commander of the ELN in Colombia, who had been captured wounded, was neutralized.
Duque added that we continue in the fight against all forms of crime.
Fabián's presence at the attacked camp had been suspected after some of his belongings had been found amid the bodies of seven other guerrillas killed.
A member of the ELN's Central Command, the highest governing body of the group, Fabián headed the so-called Western War Front, the second-largest nationwide after the historic 2016 peace agreement with the FARC. El Chocó is one of the strongholds of the Guevarista guerrillas.
”He was a criminal of the greatest danger, he was the author of many murders, kidnappings (...), leader of drug trafficking and guilty of the displacement of thousands of people, Molano stressed.
He had also sponsored attacks on the security forces and acts of vandalism during the massive anti-government protests that shook the country between April and June this year, leaving dozens dead, according to the police.
An arrest warrant was out against Fabián for the crimes of rebellion, kidnapping, and aggravated murder of an indigenous leader. His death is the most significant military achievement since Uriel was killed in October 2020 in the same region.
The thick jungle of Chocó is the epicenter of a territorial dispute between that guerrilla and the Clan del Golfo, the largest drug-trafficking gang in the country. It is also one of the strategic exit points for cocaine shipments to Central America and the United States.
Fabián's Western War Front is reported to be second in importance to the Eastern War Front, which operates on the border with Venezuela and is headed by a leader under the alias of Pablito.”