Bogota Car Bomb Kills Ten in Deadliest Attack Since Peace Deal

(Bloomberg) -- At least ten people were killed and more than 60 were injured after a car bomb exploded at a police academy in southern Bogota in the deadliest attack in Colombia’s capital since a 2016 peace deal with Marxist rebels.

A 1993 Nissan loaded with 80 kilos of pentolite explosive detonated at the General Santander academy in southern Bogota on Thursday morning, Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez said, adding that investigators have identified the terrorist.

Bogota Car Bomb Kills Ten in Deadliest Attack Since Peace Deal
Bogota Car Bomb Kills Ten in Deadliest Attack Since Peace Deal

Photos on social media accounts showed the charred remains of the vehicle. Martinez didn’t say whether the bomber was among the dead.

Colombia’s homicide rate rose last year as drug traffickers fought for control of territory after the nation’s biggest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, handed in its weapons following the peace deal. President Ivan Duque took office last year pledging a hard line on drug trafficking cartels.

Production of coca, the raw material for making cocaine, has more than tripled over the last five years, fueling violence across large swathes of the country.

The government has yet to accuse anyone for the bomb attack, or suggest a motive, but suspicion has focused on the National Liberation Army, or ELN, a Marxist rebel group which has moved into former FARC areas.

Negotiations between the government and the ELN have broken down since Duque took office in August, said Claudia Navas, Colombia risk analyst at Control Risks. The attack fits the group’s modus operandi, she said.

“This is probably the ELN trying to send the Duque government a message to try to push him to soften his stance,” she said.

Terrorist attacks in the Colombian capital reached a peak during a bombing campaign by Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel in the 1980s and early 1990s. A bomb targeting a former Justice Minister killed three people near Bogota’s financial district in May 2012. An explosion at an upscale shopping mall in Bogota in 2017 also killed three.

The 2016 peace deal with the FARC ended a conflict that had lasted more than five decades. As talks between the government and ELN stalled last year, the group stepped up its operations, carrying out dozens of attacks on oil pipelines in rural areas.

The ELN has been fighting the state since the 1960s, and says it wants a Cuban-style revolution in Colombia. It has strongholds near the border with Venezuela and in the Pacific region.

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