Truck bombs kill nine, destroy police station on first day of Colombian Christmas celebration
Solemn Colombian soldiers picked through the remains of the Inza police station Sunday morning where at least nine persons – soldiers, police and civilians – were killed, and more than 20 seriously injured from bombs launched by FARC guerrillas.
Some soldiers stood guard, weapons ready in front of a reconstructed sandbag wall while others patrolled the area. Soldiers and civilians stirred clouds of dust as they gathered pieces of furniture, shoes and clothing from the pile of rubble underneath the twisted frames of steel and concrete that stood where the police station had been.
Residents wandered about, still stunned by the results of the crude, but effective, bombs constructed from propane tanks stuffed with explosives and shrapnel which were launched from the back of a truck covered with produce that stopped in front of the station early Saturday morning. A deafening series of blasts broke the early morning calm on the day Colombians celebrate the story of the Virgin Mary and the birth of Christ. Three or four of the propane cylinder bombs were launched only a few metres away from the police station set in a lush Andean valley about 200 kilometres southeast of Cali
El Día de las Velitas, Day of the Little Candles, is a spectacular display with millions of candles and lanterns lighting up windows, sidewalks and streets in every Colombian community. It marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Colombia, a devoutly Catholic nation.
Torrential rains extinguished many of the celebratory lights and led to cancelled processions in Colombia’s southwest, Andean region where the attack occurred, just as many opponents of the peace negotiations hope the attack will extinguish negotiations between the government and the FARC.
FARC leaders attempting to negotiate a peace accord with the Colombian government justified the attack as part of the armed conflict.
“This is an action that is part of the confrontation taking place in our country,” FARC negotiator Andres Paris, said in a statement published in El País.com.
It’s also true that the Colombian military has not relented in its attacks as it has recently been capturing and killing FARC soldiers.
FARC leaders also announced Sunday they will observe a 30-day Christmas ceasefire, beginning Dec. 15.
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