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Roadside bomb explodes, killing two police officers and one civilian in Colombia

By Jimmy Adeel
|
May 27, 2023

A shocking act of terrorism unfolded in Colombia as a roadside bomb erupted, resulting in the deaths of two police officers and a civilian woman.

The violent incident occurred on Wednesday in the Tibu municipality in Norte de Santander province, leaving an additional five officers and five civilians injured, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Details of the Attack

A tour bus dashcam captured the horrific moment. The camera showed a police cruiser traveling in the opposite direction when the explosion propelled it, causing a collision with the bus.

The Colombia National Police confirmed the identities of the fallen officers as Second Lt. Raul Martinez and Patrolman Andres Idarraga.

The civilian casualty was identified as Lucy Castillo. The circumstances of her death, whether due to the explosion's impact or falling debris from the police vehicle, remain unclear.

The injured officers were Mayors Wilson Millan and Edison Hernandez and Patrolmen Brando Coronado, German Gomez, and Ezequiel Perez.

National Police Pledge Reward in Hunt for Perpetrators

"The National Police condemn this new barbaric act against civil society and police officers of the homeland that mourns our country and offer a reward of up to 200 million pesos ($44,500) to whoever provides information that allows finding the whereabouts of the responsible," the police said.

The terror attack happened in an area of Colombia known for the activity of dissident groups of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). However, no group has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing.

According to Caracol Radio, the explosion took place a few hours prior to the arrival of Ivan Velasquez, the Colombian Defense Minister, in the area.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro, formerly a 19th of April Movement guerrilla group member and now a leftist political figure, expressed his commitment to bringing the culprits to justice.

"I reject the terrorist attack in Tibu, Norte de Santander, against the lives of our police officers," he tweeted. "This criminal act will not go unpunished."

Escalating Tensions Following Cease-fire Suspension

The deadly incident follows closely on the heels of President Petro's announcement of suspending a cease-fire with the Estado Mayor Central, a dissident FARC group. This was in response to the public execution of four Indigenous individuals – including three minors – who had fled a camp in the southern province of Putumayo the previous week.

The administration decried the act as a war crime and "an assault on peace" and stated that attacks on Indigenous peoples were "inexcusable."

The Estado Mayor Central consists of former FARC commanders who refused to comply with the 2016 peace accord with the government, in which more than 14,000 fighters laid down their arms.

As part of a strategy to engage in simultaneous peace talks with various groups, Petro's administration ordered a cessation of attacks on several armed groups on Dec. 31.

Mixed Results and Ongoing Conflict

The results of this plan have been mixed. While some regions have seen reduced violence between the military and armed groups, civilians continue to bear the brunt of ongoing attacks. In March, a cease-fire with the criminal organization known as the Gulf Clan collapsed after the group resisted government efforts to eliminate illegal mines.

In another setback, the National Liberation Army, the largest remaining rebel group in the country, initially rejected the cease-fire offer. They recently put peace talks on hold after President Petro's comments suggesting that the group's younger leaders were motivated more by profits from drug trafficking than political objectives. This continues to pose significant challenges to the government's peace initiatives.