Death toll from Colombia car bomb climbs to 9

The Straits Times

BOGOTA — The death toll from a car bomb blast outside a police academy in Colombia on Thursday climbed to nine, officials said.

More than 40 cadets were reported injured as the impact of the explosion blasted walls, the mayor of Bogota, Enrique Penalosa, said.

The incident targeted the General Santander Police Academy in southern Bogota.

Colombian President Ivan Duque said the perpetrator of the attack had been identified, adding “this demented terrorist act will not go unpunished.”

Officials identified the man as Jose Aldemar Rojas, saying he drove into the academy aboard a 1993 grey Nissan Patrol car that was loaded with 80 kg. of high explosive pentolite.

“The vehicle entered at full speed and crashed in front of the main auditorium,” the Caracol news network reported online.

“Colombia is saddened but will not bow down to violence,” said Duque, who canceled a security council meeting he was to attend in Quibdo, Choco, to return to Bogota.

Colombia’s FARC, a leftist guerrilla group-turned-political party, also condemned the car bombing, saying it was intended to undermine a negotiated solution to the country’s armed conflicts.

FARC spokesman Pastor Alape Lascarro said via Twitter that “the attack on the General Santander school is a provocation against a political solution to the conflict. It seeks to put an end to the possibility of an agreement with the ELN (National Liberation Army), delegitimize social movements and benefit the hawkish sectors.”

Duque’s government took over from ex-president Juan Manuel Santos, who oversaw the disarmament of the FARC and had begun peace talks with the ELN. (Xinhua)