Police are blaming guerrillas for the car bombing of a public bus that killed at least seven and injured 11 Monday night in Cauca Department, Colombia. The attack occurred near the town of Rosas, about 200 kilometers north of Ecuador.
Police say a car loaded with explosives detonated as the bus passed on the Pan American highway, ripping the bus apart as well as destroying and damaging nearby cars. National Police in Rosas say the survivors, most of whom suffered severe burns, have been transported to hospitals in Cali and Popayan.
“This is one of the most horrific attacks on innocent people I have ever witnessed,” said police commander Víctor Mondragón. “There is no question this was a terrorist action carried out with military precision.”
Police say the bus was transporting passengers from Pasto to Cali.
The governor of Cauca, Elías Larrahondo, says preliminary information indicates the attack was the work of National Liberation Army (ELN) or the Popular Liberation Army (EPL). “A full investigation is underway to identify the facts of the attack and those responsible will be brought to justice and prosecuted,” he said. “The suffering that this has inflicted on the victims is incalcuable.”
Parts of Cauca Department and southwest Colombia have seen increased violence in recent years, much of it the result of illegal drug trade that the government says is conducted by leftwing guerrillas and rightwing paramilitary units. Two weeks ago, the ELN issued a nationwide warning that it planned attacks that would shut down major Colombian highways.
According to police, the detenation was “a very large tactical explosive” and the blast damaged nearby buldings as well as vehicles traveling on the highway.