News24

Blast kills seven in Colombia

2012-02-02 11:01

Bogota - Seven people were killed and around 70 wounded when suspected leftist rebels detonated explosives near a police station in the southwestern town of Tumaco on Wednesday, Red Cross officials said.

Four police officers and three civilians were killed in the blast, Red Cross Urgent Assistance director Cesar Uruena told RCN radio.

Of those wounded, 34 were police officers and 36 civilians, Uruena added.

The flood of wounded swamped local hospital's capacity, and some of the most seriously wounded were evacuated by Air Force jet to Cali, he added.

The bomb, apparently hidden inside a motorbike, blew up outside the police station on a busy street with many pedestrians close by, said Victor Gallo, mayor of the town of 170 000 located in the Narino department on the Pacific.

Retaliation

Rodolfo Palomino, the citizen security director of Colombia's National Police, blamed the attack on the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Palomino said the attack was retaliation for raids by security forces against the leftist guerrillas in the past months in Tumaco and across Narino, which borders with Ecuador.

The FARC, founded in 1964, has an estimated 8 000 fighters across Colombia, according to the Ministry of Defence.

Leftist guerrillas with a rival group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), are also active in the region, as well as former right-wing paramilitary fighters and drug gang members.

The group is struggling to control regions of Colombia's Pacific coastline, key for exporting illegal drugs and smuggling in weapons.