Colombia: paramilitaries behind Bogotá terror?

A powerful explosion ripped through an upscale shopping mall in Bogotá's Zona Rosa June 17, leaving at least three dead—all women—and almost a dozen injured. One of the dead was a 23-year-old French woman, who was working in Colombia as a volunteer teacher. Officials said the presumed bomb had been placed in the women's bathroom on the second floor of the Andino shopping center. Both of Colombia's guerilla groups denied responsibility for the attack. "Solidarity with today's victims in Bogotá. This act could have been done only by those who want to close the path of peace and reconciliation," FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño AKA "Timochenko" wrote on his Twitter. account. The ELN guerilla army condemned the attack on its own Twitter page, calling on the government to "identify those responsible."

Authorities had been on high alert for "spoiler" attacks by groups opposing the peace process with the FARC. The National Police issued a warning a few weeks ago that the Urabeños paramilitary group was planning to carry out terrorist attacks "in Medellin and/or Bogotá."

The Urabeños, more officially the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces and known to authorities as the Clan del Golfo or Clan Úsuga, are among the most powerful of several paramilitary groups now fighting for control of the cocaine networks, principally in the north of the country. (Colombia Reports, Miami Herald, BBC News, Blu Radio, Bogotá, El País, Spain, June 17)

  1. ‘False flag’ in Bogotá blast?

    Eight arrested in the Andino mall blast are said to be members of an urban guerilla cell, the  Revolutionary Movement of the People (MRP), but inlcude laywers and human rights workers—leading to much speculation about a "judicial false positive." The MRP issued a statement via leaflets left around Bogotá denying responsibility for the attack. (TRT World, Colombia Informa, June 25; Semana, June 19)