Friday, 19 July, 2019

One-armed explosives expert blamed for Colombia car bombing

The attack on the police cadet training academy harks back to the worst days of Bogota's violence The attack on the police cadet training academy harks back to the worst days of Bogota's violence Credit Juan Barreto AFP
Pablo Mccormick | 21 January, 2019, 01:31

The president now said Colombia was reactivating arrest warrants against 10 ELN negotiators who are in Cuba and asked Havana to hand them over.

Earlier police revised the death toll from 11 to 21.

"We will not rest until we capture and bring to justice the terrorists involved", Duque said late on Thursday.

Chief Prosecutor Nestor Martinez said that in intercepted phone conversations a man named Ricardo Carvajal recognized his role in the attack.

President Ivan Duque, who was visiting a western state, was rushing back to the capital to oversee police operations.

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Officials quickly identified the perpetrator as Jose Aldemar Rojas, saying that in the attack, he drove into the academy aboard his 1993 grey Nissan Patrol auto that was loaded with 80 kg of pentolite, a composite high explosive.

- Colombia's government said Friday that the National Liberation Army (ELN) leftist guerrilla group was behind a auto bombing at a police academy in this capital that left at least 21 dead - including the attacker - and 68 injured.

Rebel groups and the Medellín cartel drug boss Pablo Escobar committed, especially in the eighties, a succession of serious bomb attacks in the capital, Bogotá.

Defense Minister Guillermo Botero said in a press conference that the man who carried out the brazen attack, Jose Aldemar Rojas, was a member of the National Liberation Army and known by his alias Mocho Kiko.

The UN Security Council has condemned "in the strongest possible terms" Thursday's vehicle bombing at a police academy in the Colombian capital of Bogota, which caused heavy casualties. The attack has rattled residents and raised tough questions about lingering security threats in the wake of a peace deal with the nation's largest rebel group.

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Vehicle bombs were frequently used in Colombia during decades of civil war between the government and various leftist rebel groups, as well as in violence involving the Medellin cartel led by the late drug lord Pablo Escobar. Also killed was Alan Bayona, who just a few years ago outsprinted 100 other athletes at 800-meters in a nationwide track championship.

The ELN has been stepping up its attacks on police targets and oil infrastructure amid a standoff with the conservative Duque government over stalled peace talks.

Mr Duque has demanded the ELN cease all attacks and kidnappings as a condition for restarting the talks and has condemned Venezuela and Cuba for allegedly providing a safe haven for rebel leaders even as their troops continue to sow violence in Colombia.

Rocked by decades of armed conflict involving guerrillas, paramilitaries, state forces and drug traffickers, Colombia has experienced several years of relative calm since the 2016 peace accord signed by then-president Juan Manuel Santos and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) guerrillas.

The police in a statement said that 10 of 68 people injured by Thursday's blast remain hospitalized.

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