Bombs in Colombia Town Kills 2
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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Authorities Wednesday blamed Colombia’s main rebel group for bombs that exploded at two beachfront hotels, killing two people and wounding 10.
The attacks at the Lumar and Santamar hotels Tuesday night brought Colombia’s decades-long civil war to Santa Marta, which lies along the Caribbean Sea and is one of this South American country’s top tourist destinations.
The two bombs exploded almost simultaneously inside the hotels, severely damaging them and nearby buildings in the resort 450 miles north of Bogota.
Armando Leon Valera, a 72-year-old Colombian retiree, was killed in the Santamar Hotel bombing. A Colombian woman, whose name was not released, died at the Lumar Hotel.
President Alvaro Uribe said there was an $18,500 reward for information leading to those responsible for the attack.
``The country must recover its tourist industry,″ Uribe said.
Authorities blamed Colombia’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, for the attacks. Uribe said the FARC had attempted to extort money from at least one of the hotels.
The leftist rebels frequently threaten and extort business and land owners in Colombia to help fund their 38-year battle against the government and right-wing paramilitary groups. At least 3,500 people, mostly civilians, die each year in the fighting.
Meanwhile, the military on Wednesday flew 43 suspected rebels captured in eastern Arauca state to Bogota, where they were taken to prisons.
Uribe recently militarized most of Arauca state, imposing security restrictions in a zone where rebels are prominent. U.S. special forces troops will begin training two Colombian army brigades in Arauca in January.