Eight dead in car bomb attack at Colombian police school

January 17, 2019

A car bomb attack on a police cadet training school in the Colombian capital Bogota left at least eight people dead and 10 injured on Thursday, the defense ministry said.

The attack happened at the General Francisco de Paula Santander Officer’s School in the south of Bogota during a promotion ceremony for cadets.

Fanny Contreras, the armed forces’ health inspector, told local radio the car “entered (the school compound) suddenly, almost hitting the police and then there was the explosion.”

Early images from City TV showed ambulances traveling through the area close to the school in the south of Bogota.

“All Colombians reject terrorism and we’re united in fighting it,” President Ivan Duque tweeted.

Vowing to “bring to justice” those responsible for the attack, Duque added: “COLOMBIA is sad but will not bow to violence.”

A security council meeting that Duque was due to attend outside the capital has been canceled, with the president saying he would return to Bogota immediately.

The defense ministry said an investigation has been opened “to find those responsible for this terrorist act.”

Ecuador’s center-left President Lenin Moreno said he would call Duque to “express all our solidarity with our Colombian brothers.”

People wait for news outside the site of an explosion on a police cadet training school in Bogota on January 17, 2019.  (Juan Barreto / AFP)

Right-wing Duque, who assumed power in August, has peddled a tough line against Marxist rebels and drug traffickers in the largest cocaine producer in the world.

Peace talks with ELN guerrillas that stalled before Duque replaced Juan Manuel Santos as president have not been restarted.

Duque has made several demands, including the release of all hostages, as prerequisites to kick-starting the peace process, but the ELN has dismissed those as unacceptable.

Since Santos signed a historic peace accord with FARC guerrillas in 2016, turning the former rebels into a political party, the ELN remains the last recognized armed group in a country that has suffered more than half a century of conflict.

Bogota also suffered a pair of major attacks in 2017.

In February of that year, the ELN claimed responsibility for an attack on a police patrol in the Macarena neighborhood that left one officer dead and several seriously wounded.

In June, three people —including a Frenchwoman— were killed and nine others injured in an attack on a shopping mall that authorities blamed on a fringe left-wing group called the Revolutionary People’s Movement (MRP), which had previously been accused of carrying out low-impact attacks in the capital.

Security forces stand guard outside the police cadet training school in Bogota, where an apparent car bomb attack left at least four people dead and 10 injured on January 17, 2019.  (Juan Barreto / AFP)

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