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10 Die in One of Most Protected Places in Colombia's Capital

Holdout rebel group suspected in Bogota attack
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 18, 2019 12:23 AM CST
Family members of victims of a bombing gather outside the entrance to the General Santander police academy where the bombing took place in Bogota, Colombia, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019.   (AP Photo/John Wilson Vizcaino)
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(Newser) – A car bomb exploded at a heavily guarded police academy in Colombia's capital on Thursday, killing 10 people and injuring dozens in an attack that recalled the bloodiest chapters of the country's drug-fueled guerrilla conflict. Videos circulating on social media show panicked officers hauling injured colleagues on stretchers with debris and body parts strewn in front of red tile-roofed cadet barracks, the AP reports. Among those killed was a top-of-class female cadet from Ecuador, while two visiting students from Panama were among those injured. With the help of security cameras, authorities were quick to identify the suspected bomber as a 56-year-old man with no criminal record named Jose Aldemar Rojas. He died in the attack.

Authorities say Rojas drove a 1993 Nissan pick-up loaded with 175 pounds of explosive past a security checkpoint and onto the General Santander school's leafy campus, one of the most protected installations in Bogota. Little is known about Rojas. Records show he had the truck inspected six months ago in the eastern city of Arauca, near the border with Venezuela. The same volatile area is a stronghold of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, the country's last remaining rebel group following a 2016 accord between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Investigators are reportedly looking into Rojas' possible ties with the rebel group after reports that he was a longtime explosives expert for an ELN cell who went by the alias Mocho Kiko.

(Read more Colombia stories.)

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