Colombia: bombing wave at Pacific port halts hostage talks

Two people were killed, including a three-year-old girl, and seven wounded June 24 when presumed leftist guerillas detonated a bomb in a tourist area of Colombia’s main Pacific port, Buenaventura (Valle del Cauca department), the latest in a series of attacks over the weekend. Seven bombs or grenades exploded at commercial centers around the city and a police station in the previous attacks, which began June 22, leaving 23 injured. Authorities blamed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country’s largest guerilla group. “This is retaliation from the FARC for the killing of one of their key leaders,” Interior Minister Carlos Holguin told local Caracol Radio. “These bandits have decided to attack the civilian population and create acts of terror.” (Reuters, June 24)

President Alvaro Uribe said the attacks have hardened his refusal to grant a safe-haven area to negotiate a swap of about 60 hostages held by the rebels. “Clearing an area of government troops would only allow the terrorists to fortify their criminal capacity,” Uribe shouted, his fist raised, in a speech to graduating National Police officers. “They are the ones who must demilitarize.” (Reuters, June 25)

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