Bogota, Colombia (CNN)This year kicked off with a violent start on the Colombia-Venezuela border, where dissident militant factions have been competing for territorial control of lucrative drug routes that connect the South American country to the US and Europe. At least 23 people were killed in violent clashes at the start of the year, followed by a deadly car bomb and the murder of a local community leader and his wife.
Colombia struck a peace deal with guerrilla groups years ago. So why is violence surging?
The renewed violence comes more than five years after the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), ending a 52-year armed conflict that killed up to 220,000 people and displaced as many as 5 million people.
Colombian President Ivan Duque vowed to stamp out the violence during his presidency. But it continues to plague rural areas, where peace was supposed to bring development and new opportunities -- mounting concerns that the country's most violent days might not be over.
Here's what you need to know about the simmering conflict on Colombia's border with Venezuela.
Colombian authorities have accused a few groups of triggering the recent clashes in the northeastern state of Arauca: The National Liberation Army -- the largest leftist guerrilla group left in the country, known by its Spanish acronym ELN -- and dissident factions of the FARC.
The FARC disarmed and disbanded after the November 2016 peace accord. A political party formed using the same acronym, but rebranded to the name "Comunes" last year.
The FARC dissident groups consist of rebel fighters who refused to enter the peace process. Among them are splinter groups, who are also at odds with one another.
While the presence of these groups in the region has been reported since the 1980s, competition between ELN and FARC in Arauca intensified between 2006 and 2010.
President Duque, Defense Minister Diego Molano, and various generals who have all visited Arauca in the past few weeks blame the violence on competition between all these groups, who they say, are bolstered by the support of Venezuela. The Colombian government alleges that Caracas has allowed these criminal groups to take refuge in their territory, allowing them to escape prosecution by Colombian forces -- something Caracas has always denied.
The groups are battling over drug smuggling routes from Colombia to Venezeula -- a gateway to the lucrative North American and European markets, according to the Colombian government.
The fighting at the border stopped in 2010 after the warring factions signed a truce they called "no more confrontation between revolutionaries." By that point, at least 868 civilians had been killed and 58,000 people had been displaced, according to a report from Human Rights Watch (HRW).
However, tensions have continued to brew until this year's violence erupted. It is still unclear what triggered the January 2 clash, but the groups have all accused one another of pulling out of the truce in a bid to gain control over the region.
Colombia's government has long accused Venezuela's embattled president Nicolas Maduro of harboring FARC dissidents and ELN combatants to destabilize and exacerbate Colombia's internal conflict. Maduro has repeatedly