Car Bomb Wounds 23 in Colombian Capital
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ A car bomb left by a person dressed in a military uniform exploded in the parking lot of a military university in Bogota, wounding at least 23 people, as a top general was at a conference nearby, the defense minister said.
The blast occurred at Nueva Granada military university, which was hosting an event attended by foreign dignitaries and the army’s commander, Gen. Mario Montoya. The attack destroyed six vehicles, including the armored car of the school’s director.
Vice President Francisco Santos cast blame on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the country’s largest leftist rebel group known as FARC, which has been fighting the government for more than four decades.
``I imagine this has to be the FARC. I don’t see any other alternative,″ Santos said, without offering any evidence.
Juan Pablo Corlazzoli, the representative for the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights in Colombia, also was attending the conference on human rights in Colombia’s armed forces at the time of the blast.
``The moment that the conference began, the blast occurred from this vehicle a few meters from the conference room,″ said Corlazzoli. ``Everyone was very calm, there were no scenes of panic, but there was concern.″
Authorities said some 130 pounds of explosives bomb were hidden in a Ford Explorer that would have had to pass through two security checkpoints in entering the school’s parking lot. The complex, which contains a military school and the headquarters of an army brigade, is one of the most protected installations in the country.
``This looks like an unforgivable security lapse,″ Santos said.
Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said the person who left the car was filmed by a security camera and was wearing a navy uniform.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe called an emergency meeting with Bogota’s mayor to review security in the capital.
Twelve soldiers and bodyguards and six students were being treated in hospitals, while five others received treatment at the scene, said Nora Rodriguez, director of the military hospital.
Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, visiting the scene, called the blast ``a typical act of terrorism ... They are investigating what type of explosive was used.″
Authorities offered a reward of $400,000 for information on those responsible.
Colombia is in the fifth decade of a civil war that pits leftist rebels against the central government and far-right illegal militias.
A Web site by run by the FARC made no mention of the bomb, although in the past they have not commented on such attacks or issued denials sometimes weeks later.