A bomb targeting former Interior Minister Fernando Londoño killed his driver and a bodyguard and wounded 39 others Tuesday in the Colombian capital, police said, amending earlier official comments that spoke of five dead and 29 injured.
The adjusted report, provided by police spokesman Alberto Cantillo, came after several hours of confusion and was apparently verified with the several Bogota hospitals that received casualties from the blast.
The bomb was meant to kill Londoño, who served as interior minister from 2002 to 2004 in the administration of Alvaro Uribe, President Juan Manuel Santos said.
Londoño was wounded, but he is out of danger, Santos, who was defense minister under Uribe, said.
“I have just learned that Dr. Londoño was the target of an attack on his armored vehicle. Fortunately, Dr. Londoño is in stable condition, but, unfortunately, his driver and a police officer, who were part of his security team, died,” the president said in an address to the nation.
The capital’s police chief, Gen. Luis Eduardo Martinez, blamed the deadly bombing on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the Andean nation’s largest guerrilla group.
“It can’t be attributed to anyone else and we have the elements to be able to say what we are saying,” he told reporters, declining to speculate about whether the attack on Londoño was linked to the FARC car bomb that was disarmed earlier Tuesday outside the Metropolitan Police headquarters.
Londoño’s vehicle was going through a busy intersection in the northern section of Bogota, near the financial district, when the bomb exploded.
Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro went to the scene, where chaos reigned for hours as ambulances and other emergency vehicles came and went.
“The politics of hatred and vengeance want to rule in Bogota,” Petro said, adding that the bomb did not go off in an empty bus as initially reported.
The blast destroyed the bus and several other vehicles, and it damaged nearby buildings and businesses, an Efe reporter confirmed during a tour of the area.
“I want to condemn this attack in the most emphatic way possible, we do not understand the reason,” Santos said.
The bombing happened on the day that the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which was signed six years ago by Uribe and former U.S. President George W. Bush, took effect.
President Santos planned to attend a ceremony in the Caribbean city of Cartagena, marking the occasion by seeing off the first ship to sail for the United States with a cargo of textiles.
The president cancelled all his appearances after the attack.
The bombing “is an attempt to tarnish the (image of the) city on the day the FTA takes effect,” Mayor Petro said.