Two Bombs Explode in Colombia, Four Policemen Wounded
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Bombs exploded Wednesday in two Colombian cities where major cocaine cartels are based, and authorities said four policemen were wounded.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blasts. However, since drug traffickers offered rewards three months ago for each policeman killed, 122 officers have been slain, most of them by bombs.
In other developments:
-The People’s Liberation Army, a leftist guerrilla group, kidnapped a federal senator, a radio station said.
-Another guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army, reportedly said it wants former President Jimmy Carter to mediate peace talks with the government. Two bombs were hurled from a speeding car at a police station in the western city of Cali at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, police said.
Four policemen were wounded, Lt. Erik Bendec of the national police force in Cali told The Associated Press.
In the northwestern city of Medellin, a bomb exploded before dawn just outside the local national police headquarters, a police spokeswoman said.
The bomb left a crater 20 feet deep and 30 feet wide but caused no injuries, a woman identifying herself only as Lt. Drusila told the AP.
The nation’s two largest cocaine cartels are based in Cali and Medellin. Before Colombia declared war on the traffickers, the two cartels reportedly were responsible for 80 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States.
Sen. Roman Gomez Ovalle was abducted Tuesday near the northern town of Villanueva, in the state of Guajira, radio network RCN said Wednesday in a report that quoted members of the family.
The guerrillas later told the family that the senator was kidnapped as part of the rebel group’s attempt to start peace talks with the government.
Colombian guerrillas frequently kidnap government officials or journalists and release them with messages for the government.
Gomez was abducted by the People’s Liberation Army, RCN quoted the family as saying. The group recently proposed peace talks with the government.
The National Liberation Army, a hard-line Marxist guerrilla group that had said it would never give up its struggle, now wants Carter to mediate in talks with the government, reporters taken to a rebel encampment said Tuesday.
In addition to mediating peace talks in Ethiopia’s guerrilla conflict, Carter played a prominent role in certifying that Nicaragua’s recent presidential election was fair. He also has been invited to oversee elections in Hungary, Romania and the Dominican Republic.
The Colombian government already has rejected the idea of mediation by Carter or President Carlos Andres Perez of Venezuela. However, the fact that the National Liberation Army offered to hold peace talks for the first time is significant and could lead to other offers acceptable to the government.
The National Liberation Army proposal was relayed by three reporters, a television camerman and a lawyer who were kidnapped by guerrillas. The five people were taken to a guerrilla encampment on Monday, the group said Wednesday in broadcast interviews. All five were released unharmed Tuesday.
The National Liberation Army has been the most anti-American of the guerrilla groups in Colombia. It has concentrated most of its attacks on Colombia’s oil industry, including American oil companies.
The group also said it was declaring a unilateral cease-fire through the May 27 presidential elections, the reporters said. Past cease-fire offers from guerrilla groups often have been violated.