Conflicts & War

Car bomb attack against Colombian military base injures 36

(Update 2: Adds confirmation of US presence at base)

Bogotá, Jun 15 (EFE).- A car bomb attack against a military base in Cúcuta, eastern Colombia, left at least 36 injured on Tuesday, including two civilians, the defense minister said, pointing the finger at leftist rebels.

Diego Molano traveled to the capital of Norte de Santander department, bordering Venezuela, where he told reporters that, as a result of an attack at the headquarters of the 30th Army Brigade, 36 people had been injured – three of them severely, and one had undergone surgery – with 29 hospitalized.

“We reject and repudiate this vile and terrorist act which sought to attack the soldiers of Colombia,” Molano said.

He pointed to the National Liberation Army (ELN) as being responsible, although it is also being investigated whether FARC dissidents, the GAO (Organized Armed Groups), are involved.

In Norte de Santander there is a strong presence of the ELN, the dissidents of the demobilized FARC guerrillas and other criminal groups that are fighting for control of the coca plantations and drug trafficking routes.

Minister Molano said that a white vehicle loaded with explosives entered the military base with two men who impersonated public officials, and two explosions occurred shortly afterwards.

The attack bore resemblance to another committed on Jan. 17, 2019 by the ELN, which set off a car bomb at the General Santander National Police Academy in Bogotá, in which 22 cadets died and 67 other people were injured.

According to Molano, the first explosion occurred at around 15.10 pm local time (20:10 GMT) and two minutes later a second, stronger one affected the buildings of the base.

Given the seriousness of the situation, President Iván Duque also decided to go to Cúcuta to meet “with the leadership of the public force and the authorities of the city and the department, to directly supervise the situation.”

In some images reportedly recorded within the attacked brigade, a soldier can be seen in an American uniform with a little blood on his face, but the minister refrained from confirming to journalists if there are United States soldiers there.

The US embassy in Bogotá later tweeted that “a small number of US military personnel were at the Colombian military base in Cúcuta, undergoing training with a Colombian unit, at the time of the explosion. All US personnel have been verified and there are no reports of serious injuries.” EFE


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