Three killed in blast at Colombia shopping centre

Colombia shopping centre

Three women have been killed in the Colombian capital, Bogota, in what the authorities say was a terrorist attack.

An explosion occurred at a shopping centre north of the city centre. Eleven other people were injured in the attack.
Bogota’s mayor Enrique Penalosa said that one of those who died was from France.

The authorities say they believe the explosion was caused by a small bomb in a ladies toilet.

The attack happened on a busy Saturday afternoon, when the shopping centre was full of people buying presents for Father’s Day, being celebrated on Sunday.
A 23-year-old French woman who had been working as a volunteer at a school in the south of the city was the first victim to be identified.

The two others were aged 27 and 31, but their nationalities have not yet been released.

« This cowardly terrorist attack at the Centro Andino mall is deeply distressing, » Mr Penalosa said.
It is not yet known who was behind the attack.

The rebel group the ELN has used one of its Twitter accounts to condemn the attack and share the victims’ pain.

They say those who are accusing them of being behind the attack are trying to jeopardise peace talks, which are continuing with the government.

Everyone is asking who is behind the explosion, which the authorities are calling a « terrorist act ».

I asked Bogota’s Security Secretary Daniel Mejía that question, and whether it could be a local or foreign group that carried out the explosion. He said nothing could be discounted.

The authorities have been closely monitoring the guerrilla of National Liberation Army (ELN), the second largest in the country after the Farc, which was behind a bomb attack in February in Bogota that left a policeman dead and 26 people injured, 24 of them police officers.

There has been a surge in clashes and operations between the security forces and the ELN in the past few months, as the government and the rebel group try to negotiate a peace deal, one that could follow the one reached with the Farc in November 2016.

But the ELN mainly attacks security forces, and not civilian targets in the sort of operation we saw on Saturday.
Nonetheless, as Mr Mejía says, nothing can be discounted at this point.



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