BOGOTA – Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas claimed on Monday responsibility for the Feb. 19 bomb attack in downtown Bogota that killed one police officer and wounded almost two dozen others, along with two civilians.
In a communique posted on its Twitter account, the ELN said that the attack was carried out by “an urban ELN guerrilla cell” and confirmed that 26 people had been wounded in the blast.
Three days after the attack, however, police officer Albeiro Garibello Alvarado died of the wounds he received in it in the city’s La Macarena district near the main bullring, where the last bullfights of the season were due to be held.
Because of the bullfights, a large number of police had been posted on the Santamaria Plaza, where the remote control blast occurred.
Besides Garibello, 23 of his fellow officers were wounded, along with two civilians.
The Colombian government and the rebel group on Feb. 7 in Quito opened a dialogue designed to lead to an end in the armed confrontation they have pursued for more than 52 years.
Quito is currently hosting the first of the dialogue sessions involving the Colombian government and the ELN, a process in which the guarantor nations are Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Norway and Venezuela.
Meanwhile, the Colombian government’s chief negotiator at the peace talks with the ELN in Ecuador, Juan Camilo Restrepo, said Monday that the guerrilla group “is very mistaken” if it thinks that the government will be pressured to agree to a ceasefire by “terrorist acts like the one in La Macarena.”
“If the ELN thinks that, with terrorist acts like the one in La Macarena it’s going to pressure for a ceasefire, it is very mistaken. The ceasefire will be achieved when the ELN understands that it is achieved by de-escalating, not escalating, the conflict,” said Restrepo on Twitter.
The ELN, however, on its own Twitter account, reiterated “the urgency of a bilateral and immediate ceasefire,” adding that “it makes no sense for the government to sit down ... to talk peace while it delays the bilateral ceasefire and subjects the population to war.”