Car Bomb in Colombia Kills 12
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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ A car bomb exploded in the entertainment district of a provincial capital Sunday, killing at least 12 people and wounding more than 60, police said.
No one claimed responsibility for the blast, which occurred shortly after 1 a.m. in Villavicencio, 45 miles southeast of Bogota, but police suspected the country’s main rebel group _ the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia _ was behind it.
Several buildings were heavily damaged, including the offices of Super Noticias radio station, bars and discos. More than a half-dozen cars were wrecked.
Authorities asked residents of Villavicencio, the capital of Meta state, to donate blood for the wounded. They posted a $7,000 reward for identifying the attackers.
Meta police commander Col. Arnulso Oliveros blamed the FARC, as the main rebel group is known. He said the insurgents operate in the city and have attacked civilians in the past.
A tennis complex on the outskirts of the city was the site of Colombia’s Davis Cup tennis match against Uruguay over the weekend. None of the tennis players was reported among the victims.
Davis Cup umpire Omar Cardona said he would meet with the team captains to discuss whether the final two matches of the tournament would proceed as scheduled on Sunday.
Villavicencio is located in the Andean foothills between Bogota and a former safe haven that President Andres Pastrana had granted to the rebels at the start of peace talks in 1999.
Pastrana revoked the sanctuary and canceled the talks on Feb. 20, after the rebels hijacked a Colombian airliner and kidnapped a senator who was on board.
Colombia’s 38-year-old civil war pits the country’s two main rebel armies against a rival paramilitary group. The conflict kills about 3,500 people every year.