Colombians flood streets to protest terror after car bomb
|Toronto Star 20 Jan 2019 at 09:54|
BOGOTA‚ÄĒThousands of Colombians dressed in white poured into the streets Sunday to repudiate terrorism after a car bombing at a Bogota police academy killed 21 people and left dozens more wounded.
Amid heavy security and loud chants of ‚ÄúDown with the terrorists!‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúNo more violence,‚ÄĚ the crowd marched to Bogota‚Äôs emblematic Plaza Bolivar where it was received by President Ivan Duque, who donned a green police cap for the victims of Thursday‚Äôs attack, the deadliest in 15 years in Colombia.
People rally to repudiate terrorism at Bolivar Square in Bogota, Colombia, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. Amid heavy security and loud chants of ‚ÄúDown with the terrorists!‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúNo more violence,‚ÄĚ the crowd marched to Bogota‚Äôs emblematic Plaza Bolivar where it was received by President Ivan Duque, who donned a green police cap for the victims of Thursday‚Äôs attack, the deadliest in 15 years in Colombia.¬†¬†(Fernando Vergara / Associated Press)
Young and elderly demonstrators alike spontaneously embraced a large number of the police officers lining the march route.
‚ÄúWe want you to know you‚Äôre not alone,‚ÄĚ said Jenny Buitrago, 32, who dressed her three young children as police officers in a show of solidarity.
Authorities have attributed Thursday‚Äôs bombing to the National Liberation Army ‚ÄĒ the last major guerrilla group following a 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Colombia blames National Liberation Army rebels for deadliest attack in 15 years
Duque has asked Cuba to arrest 10 rebel commanders who had been living on the communist-governed island with his permission in a fading attempt to jump-start stalled peace talks.
Cuba, which condemned the bombing, has pushed back, saying it is obliged to follow the protocol signed by Duque‚Äôs predecessor allowing the negotiators to leave the communist-run island in the event of a rupture in talks.
Sunday‚Äôs nationwide marches were promoted as a non-partisan show of unity against violence. But the outraged people who showed up in Bogota shouted conservative, law and order slogans and showed little interest in preserving what was left of a peace process with the ELN that began in 2017 under the mediation of Cuba, Norway, Venezuela and Chile.
With the political fallout in the balance, authorities have been making steady progress in their investigation of the attack, which recalled some of the bloodiest chapters of Colombia‚Äôs recent past.
Within 24 hours of the attack, police arrested a man, Ricardo Carvajal, who they say showed up on intercepted phone calls boasting of having participated in the attack.
Authorities are investigating whether Carvajal is the unidentified man seen on security cameras descending from a 1993 Nissan pickup less than 10 minutes before it exploded at the General Santander police academy loaded with 80 kilograms of pentolite.