BOGOTA, July 8 (UPI) — Colombia’s National Police announced that 15 people have been arrested with potential links to the two small intimidatory bombings recently carried out in Bogota. Three women, two university professors and two district administration officials were among those arrested. Some are accused of being members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) left-wing rebel group, which also carried out attacks in Bogota last year. About eight people were injured, but not seriously, in Thursday’s attack when two small bombs detonated in Bogota. Defense Secretary Luis Carlos Villegas said the explosions were meant to intimidate.
Human rights groups criticized the arrests, claiming it is an attempt to suppress legitimate dissent About 15 people suspected of participating in bombings that shook the Colombian capital of Bogota and left 10 people injured, were arrested by Colombian authorities Wednesday. Authorities claimed the suspects were members of an underground cell of the National Liberation Army, known as the ELN, Colombia’s second largest guerrilla organization. Police accused David Camilo Rodriguez Hernandez, alias El Profe, of being the head of the cell. Among the arrested are a two employees of the municipal government of Bogota and several students. They face a range of charges including terrorism, rebellion, and harm to others.
However, human rights organizations have criticized the actions of authorities. The Peoples’ Congress said that the majority of those arrested are “recognized student leaders, peasants, journalists, officials with the municipality and defenders of human rights.” According to the human rights group, 11 of those arrested belong to organizations affiliated with the People’s Congress. In a statement posted online, the People’s Congress said that the arrests were an attack on civil rights in Colombia and an attempt to silence legitimate dissent. “The arrests are aimed at persecuting and criminalizing social protest and freedom of expression in Colombia, and hinder the defense of human rights and the search for a stable and lasting peace,” read the statement. Casting greater doubt on the government’s claims, the ELN told W Radio that it was not familiar with any of the 15 suspects.
BOGOTA, Colombia — An explosive device went off in the financial district of Colombia’s capital Thursday and wounded seven people, while a second blast in another part in Bogota injured an eighth person, authorities said. Health officials said none of the wounded suffered serious injuries. The first blast happened in the city’s main banking district, which is in northern Bogota. Health Secretary Mauricio Bustamante said seven people were wounded there. He said one person was hurt by the second explosion, which was at a branch of the Porvenir pension fund in the Puente Aranda area in the west of the city.
Police Capture Man Who Threw Pamphlet Bomb in Downtown Bogota
BOGOTA – Colombian police arrested a man in downtown Bogota who detonated an explosive device that blasted out pamphlets referring to the National Liberation Army, or ELN, the second-largest guerrilla group in the country, officials said. The director of Colombian police, Gen. Rodolfo Palomino, said on his Twitter account that “thanks to a citizen’s tip, the individual was arrested in Bogota for the ELN pamphlet bomb,” without adding any further details. The incident occurred the day after two attacks were launched against offices of the Porvenir pension fund on the north and west sides of Bogota, which left at least eight wounded and which, according to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, seem likely to have been the work of the ELN.
For her part, the acting mayor of Bogota, Martha Lucia Zamora, told local media that today’s attack weapon was “a pamphlet bomb with no power to injure.” One of the devices, apparently made with black gunpowder, exploded at the intersection of Calle 19 and Carrera 5, a busy area of the capital, causing panic though no one was reported wounded. Another device, similar to the one that exploded, was deactivated just two blocks from where the first one blew up. Over the past year, Bogota has been hit by seven attacks like those on its north and west sides, six of which have been attributed to the ELN by authorities who on Saturday called for citizens to keep calm about speculations on social networks that more attacks are on the way.