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Colombia: Car bomb explosion at army base injures dozens

June 16, 2021

A car bomb explosion in a military base in Colombia's restive North Santander state has injured at least 36 people. No one has yet to claim responsibility for the attack.

A soldier signals an ambulance
An ambulance arrives at the military base following the explosionImage: Ferley Ospina/AP/picture alliance

At least 36 people, including two civilians, were injured in a car bomb explosion in a military base in eastern Colombia on Tuesday, officials said. 

The base, used by the 30th Army brigade, is located in the city of Cúcuta, the capital
of North Santander state, a restive region on the border with Venezuela.

Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molana told reporters that three of the 36 were injured severely. 

Molana said that two men drove a white Toyota truck into the base after passing themselves off as officials. Then two explosions followed.

Videos on social media showed smoke rising from the base followed by a loud explosion that shattered windows and destroyed offices.

"Nothing and no one frightens our Public Force...We will continue to watch over the security and defense of Colombians," Molana said. 

Colombia's President Ivan Duque tweeted that he would travel to Cucuta to meet with the leadership and authorities of the city. Interior Minister Daniel Palacios also condemned what he called a "cowardly terrorist act" at the military base.

Who could have been responsible for the attack?

Molana said that "the initial hypothesis" is that the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group was likely behind the attack, although he provided no evidence to support his claim. A splinter group of FARC, formerly Colombia's largest guerilla organization, is also being investigated, he added.

Soldiers usher children off the street near a Colombian military base
Soldiers watch over children near the military base where a car bomb explodedImage: Ferley Ospina/AP/picture alliance

Despite a 2016 peace deal between the Colombian government and the left-wing FARC rebels that sought to bring an end to five decades of armed conflict, the Colombian government continues to battle former FARC members, and ELN fighters, who have rejected the deal.

The 30th Brigade base in Cucuta coordinates operations against the ELN, and FARC splinter groups. 

rm/wmr (Reuters, AP, dpa)