BOGOTA, COLOMBIA (BNO NEWS) — A car bomb exploded near a vehicle carrying former Colombian Interior Minister Fernando Londoño in the country’s capital on Tuesday, killing two people nearby and injuring the former government official, officials said.
The attack happened at around 11:15 a.m. local time when a car bomb exploded near a vehicle carrying Londoño on Calle 74 near Caracas Avenue in the northern area of Colombia’s capital Bogota. The blast seriously damaged nearby vehicles, including the armored vehicle which Londoño was in.
Police said two people were killed in the blast, including Londoño’s driver and a police lieutenant, while at least 25 others were injured and rushed to the nearby Clínica del Country. Three of them were seriously injured, but most of the victims had been discharged from the hospital later on Tuesday.
Among those injured was Londoño, who could be seen exiting his vehicle with blood stains on his chest as he was guarded by a bodyguard armed with a gun. The former interior and justice minister did not sustain serious injuries, but he was visibly stunned when he exited the damaged vehicle.
Bogota Police Commander General Luis Eduardo Martinez said there was ‘convincing evidence’ that the attack was carried out by rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, commonly known as FARC. “Police are analyzing video from security cameras in the area to try to identify the perpetrators of the attack,” a police spokesperson said.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos strongly condemned the attack and visited Londoño at Clínica del Country. “I ask you today, the Colombian people, that we unite against terrorism,” he said. “Terrorism has done much harm to our country and caused a lot of damage. Although we are eliminating it, we have not eliminated it altogether, and this is proof of that, but we will be moving to eliminate it completely from the face of our country.”
Earlier on Tuesday morning, at around 5 a.m. local time, a group of soldiers noticed a suspicious vehicle which had been abandoned in the Eduardo Santos neighborhood of Bogota. The bomb squad arrived and successfully dismantled an explosive device inside, which is believed to have targeted a nearby police station. One suspect was arrested.
FARC, which is dedicated to the violent overthrow of Colombia’s democratically-elected government, was formed in 1964 and is structured as a military organization, with approximately 10,000 armed guerillas organized into seven “blocs,” 68 numbered “Fronts”, nine named “Fronts,” and four urban “militias.” The group is present in 24 of the 32 departments of the South American country.