Security stepped up in Bogotá after deadly blast

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — The Colombian government tightened security in the capital Bogotá after a deadly blast killed two people and injured a former minister and at least 38 other people, as investigators tried to find those responsible.

“The security forces won’t rest and will spare no effort to clear up this attack,” Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón told reporters.

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

Preliminary results of the probe indicate that a bomb was placed under Fernando Londoño’s armored car at a red light. His driver and a bodyguard were killed.

Londoño, 68, served as minister of the interior and justice in the cabinet of former president Álvaro Uribe, who governed from 2002 to 2010. Londoño was treated at a Bogotá hospital with injuries that were not life threatening.

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 Bogotá police headquarters.

But analysts suggest that incident, which occurred on the day parliament was due to vote on setting up a legal framework for eventual peace negotiations, may 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 León Valencia, a specialist on the Colombian conflict.

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

“That’s exactly what the terrorists want,” he said.

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

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

[AFP, 17/05/2012; Elpais.com.co (Colombia), 17/05/2012]

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