(Adds detail on Ecopetrol ownership and kidnap victim)
BOGOTA, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Pumping operations along Colombia’s second most important oil pipeline, the Cano-Limon Covenas, was halted due to a bomb attack by rebels from the Marxist ELN group, a high-ranking military official said on Friday.
The attack occurred on Thursday in a rural area of northern El Carmen in Norte de Santander province, close to the border with Venezuela, General Alberto Jose Mejia, the army’s commander, told reporters in Bogota.
“There were terrorist activities by the ELN, a kidnapping and a bombing of the pipeline,” he said, referring to the National Liberation Army insurgent group.
Production and export from the Cano Limon fields were not interrupted.
The kidnap victim is Cristo Humberto Contreras, the father of the mayor of El Carmen, Mejia said.
The 485-mile (780 km) pipeline has the capacity to transport up to 210,000 barrels of crude daily from oil fields operated by U.S.-based Occidental Petroleum to the Caribbean port of Covenas. Ecopetrol, which owns the pipeline, said it would send personnel to the area to repair the damage. Mejia said the rebels had mined the area, slowing repairs. There were 43 attacks on the pipeline last year, Ecopetrol said.
Attacks on oil installations by the ELN, a group of about 1,500 combatants, have been a frequent occurrence during a conflict that has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions in the past 52 years.
The attack will anger President Juan Manuel Santos Peace, whose government has started peace talks with the rebels in Ecuador.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the biggest rebel group in the South American country, agreed to a revised peace accord with the government late last year. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Helen Murphy; Editing by Bill Trott)