BOGOTA – Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said on Monday that Sunday’s bomb attack that wounded 26 people in Bogota’s La Macarena district could have been carried out by the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas, with whom the government is engaged in peace talks in Ecuador.
“The most probable hypothesis about the authors of yesterday’s attack in Bogota is that they are members of the ELN,” wrote Villegas on Twitter.
Unknown attackers on Sunday detonated the bomb that injured 24 police officers and two civilians near the Santamaria bullring, a zone where there are many restaurants and other businesses.
In another Twitter message, the defense chief added that “the device was activated by remote control” and was placed several hours earlier “with great malice.”
Meanwhile, Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa ruled out that the attackers were common criminals and agreed with Villegas that the most likely hypothesis is that they belong to an illegal armed group.
“It’s an armed group that is behind these deeds and they are trying to kill police officers. They could be dissidents of some armed group that wants to have an influence on the negotiation process (with the ELN) but we’re alert for more attacks,” Peñalosa told RCN Radio.
The mayor said that the authorship of the attack is still not clear but “there are similarities with other attacks that were committed in Bogota and were aimed at killing police officers.”
On Feb. 7, the Colombian government and the ELN met in Quito to begin negotiations leading to ending their 52-year-old armed confrontation after a peace pact was signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels on Nov. 24.