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Saturday 25 October  

Security stepped up in Bogota after deadly blast

Published on 17 May 2012 - 12:47am
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Colombia on Wednesday tightened security in the capital Bogota after a deadly blast that killed two people and injured a former minister, as investigators tried to find those responsible.

Fernando Londono, a former interior minister, was hospitalized Tuesday when a bomb exploded at a busy Bogota intersection in what President Juan Manuel Santos described as an assassination attempt against the 78-year-old.

Thirty-nine others were also wounded in the mid-morning incident that witnesses described as an ear-shattering explosion followed by scenes of carnage.

"The security forces won't rest and will spare no effort to clear up this attack," Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon told reporters.

Security measures implemented so far include the creation of an anti-terrorist committee for Bogota and a working group tasked with identifying security risks to specific politicians.

Preliminary results of the probe indicate that a bomb was placed under Londono's armored car at a red light. Those killed include his driver and a bodyguard.

Londono served in the cabinet of former president Alvaro Uribe, a hardliner who governed from 2002 to 2010.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast but investigators said they are probing possible links to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Latin America's oldest and largest guerrilla group.

The attack came shortly after police said they dismantled a car bomb that leftist FARC rebels planned to use in an attack on the Bogota police headquarters.

But experts suggest Tuesday's incident, which occurred on the day parliament was due to vote on setting up a legal framework for eventual peace negotiations, may also be linked to other groups.

"We can't rule out factions of the FARC opposed to a possible rapprochement with the government or far-right groups," said Leon Valencia, a specialist on the Colombian conflict.

Regardless of who is behind the blast, Santos vowed not to change course.

"That's exactly what the terrorists want," he said.

Meanwhile, people gathered at the bomb site to call for an end to violence.

"We are here to reclaim peace in Colombia," said 18-year-old Alvaro Ninco. "A just and long-lasting peace."

© ANP/AFP

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