3 killed as car bomb detonates near police station in Colombia amid anti-government unrest
A truck rigged with explosives detonated outside a police station in Colombia amid mass protests in the country that have been marred by violence and looting.
The blast happened in Santander de Quilichao, a town some 500km from the nation’s capital, Bogota.
Three police officers were killed and seven more wounded, the government secretary of the Cauca Department, Jaime Asprilla, said. Meanwhile, local media reported that at least 10 people were injured in the explosion.
Defense Minister Carlos Homles Trujillo condemned the “heinous terrorist attack,” vowing to identify and punish the perpetrators.
Footage has circulated on social media showing firefighters arriving at the scene of the incident, with police sirens wailing in the background.
#AtenciónComunidadET Acaba de explotar un carro bomba en Santander de Quilichao, Cauca, en inmediaciones de la nueva estación de Policía. El municipio se quedó sin luz. Se desconoce el número de heridos. pic.twitter.com/xJIhlMmsc2— EL TIEMPO (@ELTIEMPO) November 23, 2019
Reportan explosión de camión bomba en Santander de Quilichao. El hecho se presentó frente a la estación de Policía de este municipio del norte del Cauca. ►https://t.co/psyW5eaxdOpic.twitter.com/IkmMNjzMvs— EL TIEMPO (@ELTIEMPO) November 23, 2019
A graphic video posted online shows injured men wearing police uniforms being wheeled into hospital.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
#ATENCIÓN | Fue activado un carro bomba en Santander de Quilichao produciendo daños y lesiones a miembros de la @PoliciaColombiapic.twitter.com/bFxKsyKYRO— Alejandro Corrales (@AlejoCorralesCD) November 23, 2019
The explosion apparently was powerful enough to reduce a nearby building to rubble. A video has emerged showing locals and first responders sifting through the debris.
Imágenes de los destrozos por el coche bomba en Colombia Imágenes de los destrozos causados por la explosión de un coche bomba en Santander de Quilichao, en el norte del Departamento del Cauca. El hecho ha ocurrido cerca de una estación de la Policía. pic.twitter.com/3Yz06L4Ivm— RT en Español (@ActualidadRT) November 23, 2019
ATENCIÓN Atacan con carro bomba la estación de Policía en Santander de Quilichao, Cauca. La cifra preliminar es tres muertos y 10 heridos. #Colombia#ElParoSiguepic.twitter.com/r0V6G2szbb— ANONYMOUS VENEZUELA © (@AnonymousVene10) November 23, 2019
A photo purportedly captured inside the targeted police station shows the building's interior devastated by the blast.
#ReportoEnCity Estación de policía en Santander de Quilichao, después de la explosión @lafmpic.twitter.com/VPtnoiizf4— «DARLY» (@20DJGM) November 23, 2019
There were also reports of a second explosion that ripped through the city on Saturday night."There were two explosions that were felt throughout the city, immediately the power went out and everything went dark... only the ambulances rushed towards the hospital," Alfonso Jose Luna from the local Proclama del Cauca newspaper told El Tiempo.
It’s unclear who was behind the attack, and whether it is linked to a wave of protests over President Ivan Duque's austerity policies, which saw thousands of people taking to the streets on Thursday and Friday.
A police source speaking to Reuters said that law enforcement currently did not suspect any particular armed group was behind the attack. Cauca, however, is notorious for its drug trafficking and related violent crime.Also on rt.com Authorities impose curfew in capital of Colombia, deploy 20k police against protesters
Earlier on Friday, President Duque imposed an overnight curfew on the entire Colombian capital, Bogota, as 20,000 police clad in full riot gear were sent to patrol the streets after sporadic violence broke out on the sidelines of largely peaceful anti-austerity protests.
Rather than quell the unrest, the curfew was defied by hundreds of protesters who gathered in front of Duque’s house on Friday night, banging pots and pans and chanting slogans.
Ahead of a curfew in my neighbourhood in Bogotá, a liberal artsy stronghold, neighbours bang pots and pans in unison in protest against president Iván Duque and the heavy-handed police response to protests. #ElParoSiguepic.twitter.com/m0rAU4bCKg— Joe Parkin Daniels (@joeparkdan) November 23, 2019
Over 200,000 people rallied in Bogota on Thursday. Another 20,000 rallied in Cali, prompting local authorities to impose a curfew there.
There have been also reports of looting during the curfew. A video shows vandals hurling stones at a supermarket storefront in Bogota, and attempting to break in.
#ÚltimaHora | A pesar del toque de queda se registran algunos saqueos en #Bogotá. Los vándalos del #ParoNacional lograron ingresar a las instalaciones del Olímpica de la Av. Caracas con carrera 11 sur (Más en breve en @panampost_es) (Video vía @NoticiasRCN) #22Nov#ElParoSiguepic.twitter.com/cPoQlYZnrf— PanAm Post Español (@PanAmPost_es) November 23, 2019
In a bid to diffuse the tensions, Duque on Friday promised to hold a “national conversation to strengthen the current social policy agenda” next week. However, his attempt to placate the protesters has apparently fallen flat so far.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!