BOGOTA – Colombian Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo denied on Sunday that a police officer was killed in the bomb blast in the La Macarena section of the capital city of Bogota, revising earlier reports.
“We condemn the attack with explosives. Unacceptable use of violence. The police inform us that the officers are wounded, there are no fatalities,” said Cristo on his Twitter account.
The explosion occurred at 10:36 am at the corner of 27th Avenue and 5th Street, near the La Santamaria bullring where the last bullfight of the season was to be held later in the day, the reason why a large police deployment had been made in the area.
The blast wounded 26 people – 24 police officers and 2 civilians – the police said in their communique.
Most of the officers who were injured were participating in the police security operation surrounding the bullfight. One of the civilians was released and the other does not appear to be seriously hurt, reports said.
“We trust that the injured police will recover and that a rapid investigation (will occur) to find the authors of this attack,” Cristo added.
A few hours earlier, Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa had tweeted that one of the injured police officers had died and even provided the name of the officer.
“I regret to report the death of officer John Herrera as a result of the explosion this morning in La Macarena,” Peñalosa said in a Twitter post.
Bogota Metropolitan Police commander Gen. Hoover Penilla, meanwhile, denied that anti-bullfighting groups were behind the attack.
In their statement, police said that six of the injured officers were in “serious” condition and the other 18 are being treated at several local hospitals.
Police cordoned off the area and ambulances transported the wounded to San Ignacio Medical Center and National Police Central Hospital, among other health centers.
A bomb planted in a sewer grate near where riot police had gathered caused the carnage, Caracol Radio reported.