BOGOTA – The Urban Warfare Front of Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas ostensibly claimed responsibility on Sunday for the bombing of a police station on the weekend in the city of Barranquilla that killed five police officers and wounded 41.
“The ELN, in legitimate exercise of the right to rebellion, carried out the ... military action ... Police forces at the San Jose station, in southern Barranquilla, were attacked,” said the group in a communique, the authenticity of which has not yet been verified.
The group added that it carried out the Saturday attack because it feels that the government “is refusing to give answers to the needs of the people, is inventing excuses for not guaranteeing their rights and is using the public (security) forces to repress the people.”
The government and the ELN last year launched peace talks in Quito, but the dialogue has been suspended since Jan. 10 due to a wave of attacks by the rebel group after a bilateral ceasefire that had been in effect for 100 days ended.
A 31-year-old man identified as Cristian Camilo Bellon Galindo was arrested in Barranquilla in connection with the attack and will be charged with five counts of homicide, along with 42 counts of attempted murder, aggravated terrorism and the use of explosives, according to Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez.
Two other attacks were perpetrated on Sunday in Colombia’s Caribbean zone, the first in the Barranquilla metro area town of Soledad against an Immediate Action Command post injuring four police officers and a passerby and the second against a police station in Santa Rosa, in Bolivar province, in which two police officers were killed and two others wounded.
“The violent ones have attacked again. Infamous and vile attack on our police in Santa Rosa del Sur. Bolivar mourns the deaths of two heroic policemen. We demand justice and the quick capture of these miserable bandits,” Bolivar Gov. Dumek Turbay said in a Twitter post.
Investigators are trying to determine whether the attacks are related.