At least five police officers have been killed, while dozens more were injured after a bomb exploded outside a police station in the city of Barranquilla in Colombia.
Police officers were gathered in the San Jose neighborhood to receive their morning assignments when the explosion occurred, killing five officers and injuring 42 others. Most of the injuries were not life-threatening, but several officers who were taken to nearby hospitals remain in serious condition.
According to authorities, the attack could be in retaliation for the government’s recent crackdown on drug trafficking and organized crime. “We think it could be retaliation by these groups who have recently been greatly impacted,” said Brigadier General Mariano de la Cruz Botero, commander of the metropolitan police, referring to active crime circles in the city.
A 31-year old suspect has been arrested in connection with the bomb attack. The individual was found near the site of the bombing with radio equipment and plans of the police station. According to Attorney-General Nestor Martinez, the suspect will be charged with five aggravated murders, attempted murder, terrorism, and use of explosives.
Authorities believe that there may be others involved in the planning and carrying out the attack. They have offered a reward of 50 million pesos ($18,000) for anyone who can provide information about the bombers.
The National Urban War Front of the rebel group ELN has taken responsibility for the bomb attack. The guerrilla group published a statement on its website saying that its members “attacked police forces in the San Jose station in the south of Barranquilla.”
Last year, the ELN also carried out a bomb attack in the urban center of Bogota, wherein over 40 police officers were injured.
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos offered his condolences to the families of the bombing’s victims, and promised that the government will not rest until the ones responsible for the attack are brought to justice.