The target of the bombing was former Interior and Justice Minister Fernando Londoño, who was traveling in a bulletproof car at the time of the attack. Lodoño’s driver and one bodyguard were killed, and he was wounded in the blast, which took place in prosperous northern Bogota, at 74th Street with Caracas Avenue. The authorities have security camera footage of the man who placed the explosive device, which shows him walking along the street and circling Lodoño’s car before sticking the bomb to a door on the left-hand side, reports Caracol Radio.
The FARC rebel group are the most likely culprits for the attack. They are thought to have been behind another car bomb deactivated a few hours before the explosion, outside a police station in the south of the city. One person has been arrested in connection to the first bomb.
The group’s Eastern Bloc are thought to be responsible for both attacks, working through their urban guerrilla network the Red Urbana Antonio Nariño (RUAN). The rebels have increasingly been relying on non-uniformed militias in recent years, who carry out urban guerrilla attacks like car bombings.
Lodoño was minister early in the presidency of Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010), and resigned in 2003. He remains an Uribe ally, and has criticized President Juan Manuel Santos’ moves toward peace talks with the FARC.
The Miami Herald notes that it would be the first fatal bomb attack carried out by the FARC in Bogota in nearly 10 years, though the guerrillas have not yet claimed responsibility. In 2003 the guerrillas bombed the upscale El Nogal club, killing 36.
The attack was carried out on the day that Colombia’s free trade agreement with the US came into effect. It’s possible that the attack was planned by the FARC to mark this date -- in recent communiques the rebels have criticized the government for opening the country to multinational businesses.
The bombing may also have been timed to coincide with the Framework for Peace, aconstitutional amendment that would give the government special powers to negotiate with the guerrillas and allow former rebels to run for office, and is currently making its way through Congress. Some lawmakers called for the move to be put on hold after the attack, but Congress overwhelming voted to move forward with the legislation, backed by Santos’ government who said they must not give in to terrorism, reports Colombia Reports.
Some reports focus on the blow to the reputation of the city, which is undergoing a rebirth after the worst years of the conflict. The New York Times says the attack “stunned residents in a city that has prided itself on recovering from years of violence,” while AFP describes it as a blow to the forces of change.
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- Foreign Policy has a piece on “Preparing for life after Castro,” reprinted in the Miami Herald.
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