At least 21 people killed in blast at Colombia police training center

A car bomb was detonated outside a police cadet training center in the Colombian capital Bogota. At least 21 people were killed and 10 injured in the explosion, according to reports.

“It seems there was a car bomb inside the General Santander School,” around 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 18, AFP reported Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa as saying.

Fanny Contreras, the armed forces’ health inspector, told local radio the car “entered [the school compound] suddenly, almost hitting the police and then there was the explosion,” the report said.

The vehicle was packed with 80 kg (175 pounds) of explosives, the defense ministry said.

“Unfortunately, the preliminary toll is 21 people dead, including the person responsible for the incident, and 68 wounded,” Colombian police said in a statement, adding 58 of those injured had been discharged from hospital. The defense ministry had previously reported 11 dead and 65 injured.

Images on social media showed firefighters extinguishing flames from the vehicle.

Colombian President Ivan Duque called the incident “a despicable terrorist act” and said he would return immediately to the capital.

Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the bomb but a suspect identified by public prosecutor Nestor Humberto Martinez as Jose Aldemar Rojas Rodriguez was killed in the explosion.

He said the truck underwent an inspection in July in the Arauco department on the border with Venezuela – a traditional stronghold of the National Liberation Army (ELN).

After the 2016 peace accord signed by former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC guerrillas, turning the former rebels into a political party, the ELN is considered the last active rebel group in a country that has suffered more than half a century of conflict.

Peace talks between the Colombian government and ELN have been frozen since last January after bomb attacks claimed by the guerrillas killed seven police officers.

ELN rebels say Colombia government peace talk conditions ‘unacceptable’

This story was updated on January 18, 2019 at 0735 GMT with additional information.

With reporting from AFP


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