Bogotá Bomb Blast Kills Two, Ex-Minister Targeted

By Dialogo
May 16, 2012

Two people were killed and 17 injured in the Colombian capital May 15, when a bomb exploded in what President Juan Manuel Santos said was an assassination attempt against a former interior minister.

“I’ve just learned that an attempt was made on the life of Mr. Fernando Londoño. He was in his armored car,” said Santos in a speech from the presidential palace.

“Fortunately, Dr Londoño is in stable condition in the hospital,” the Colombian leader said, adding Londoño’s driver and a police guard were among the dead.

Bogota’s mayor Gustavo Petro said via Twitter that “one suspect has been arrested” and there is surveillance video of the crime scene.

“The entire city should stay alert,” he added in his message, as the Red Cross said 17 people had been injured.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred on Bogota’s busy Calle 74 and Avenida Caracas, a bustling intersection in the northwest of the city filled with foot traffic from businesses and students from nearby universities.

Witnesses described an ear-shattering explosion followed by scenes of carnage.

“It was horrible,” one witness told AFP, who said the grisly disaster scene included a body torn in half by the force of the blast lying in the street.

The witness said Londoño’s bodyguards brandished their firearms as they removed the injured minister from the shattered vehicle and rushed him to a nearby hospital.

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

Santos, leader of Colombia’s successor government, vowed not to be cowed by the assault.

“I want to condemn this attack in the strongest terms,” said Santos. “We do not know what the purpose of it was, but be absolutely certain that the government is not going to allow itself to be derailed by these terrorist acts.”

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

Suspicion for the attack immediately fell upon the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which for decades has carried out an ongoing armed conflict with the Bogota government.