Death toll climbs to 21 in Bogota terrorist attack

Death toll climbs to 21 in Bogota terrorist attack

Colombia' s government declared three days of mourning Thursday after at least 21 people died in a auto bomb at a Bogota police cadet training academy, and 68 were wounded - the worst such incident in the city in 16 years.

The death toll from a vehicle bomb blast outside a police academy in Colombia on Thursday morning has climbed to 10, officials said.

"All of us Colombians reject terrorism and are united in confronting it", Duque said in a tweet.

"We will not rest until we capture and bring to justice the terrorists involved", Duque said late Thursday.

Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez said at the same press conference that Colombian authorities early Friday arrested a suspect in the attack identified as Ricardo Andres Carvajal.

But they said a 56-year-old man named Jose Aldemar Rojas drove a 1993 Nissan pick-up loaded with 80 kilograms (175 pounds) of explosive past a security checkpoint to carry out the attack.

Little is known about Rojas.

The Colombian authorities have indicated that the terrorist act was conducted by the rebel National Liberation Army. The man who served under the fighting name "Mocho Kico" for 17 years as an explosives expert in the ranks of the rebels in the East of the country, reported the TV channel Caracol, citing the General Prosecutor's office.

ELN has been stepping up attacks on police targets in Colombia amid a standoff with the conservative government over how to re-start stalled peace talks.

In February 2017, the ELN claimed responsibility for an attack on a police patrol in the Macarena neighborhood of Bogota that left one officer dead and several seriously wounded.

In the past two decades the Cuban revolution-inspired group, which is believed to have around 1,500 fighters, has never been capable or shown much interest in carrying out high-profile act of violence.

The Secretary-General strongly condemns the vehicle bombing at a police academy in Bogotá.

Mr Duque has demanded the ELN cease all attacks and kidnappings as a condition for restarting the talks and has condemned Venezuela and Cuba for allegedly providing a safe haven for rebel leaders even as their troops continue to sow violence in Colombia. Carol Oviedo said her brother Jonathan, a cadet, told her on the phone he had been injured, before the connection was cut. Also killed was Alan Bayona, who just a few years ago outsprinted 100 other athletes at 800-meters in a nationwide track championship.

Auto bombs were frequent in Colombia during decades of civil war between the state and various leftist rebel groups, as well as in violence involving the Medellin drug cartel led by drug lord Pablo Escobar.

The attack was the deadliest in Colombia since 2003.

Jorge Restrepo, director of the Conflict Analysis Resource Center, said the ELN's decentralized and politically-fragmented leadership is a major obstacle to peacemaking.

Dozens of residents stood in line at four collection points throughout the city to donate blood to treat the more than 70 victims. Fifty eight of the injured have been discharged from hospital.

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