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9 dead in car bombing at police academy in Colombia capital

Thursday, January 17, 2019

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — At least nine people were killed and dozens more injured in a car bombing at a heavily guarded police academy in Colombia's capital today, recalling the high-profile attacks associated with the bloodiest chapters of the country's drug-fueled guerrilla conflict.

The scene outside the General Santander police academy in southern Bogota was chaotic in the immediate aftermath of the midmorning attack, the biggest against a police or military facility in the capital in over a decade.

Videos circulating on social media show panicked police officers carrying injured colleagues on stretchers along a road strewn with debris and body parts. In the distance, the skeletal steel remains of the vehicle used in the attack can be seen still burning while approaching ambulances blare.

The police said at least nine people were killed, while Bogota's health department said another 54 were injured. Among the dead were a Panamanian and an Ecuadorian national.

Rafael Trujillo said he was delivering a care package to his son Gerson, who entered the school just two days ago, when he was stopped in his tracks by the blast that destroyed windows in apartment buildings four blocks away.

"I'm sad and very worried because I don't have any information about my son," said Trujillo, standing outside the facility, where police officers had set up a taped perimeter as forensic specialists surveyed the blast site.

Authorities were at a loss to explain how the vehicle, apparently a pick-up truck, slipped through a gate permanently protected by explosive-sniffing dogs, heavily-armed guards and security cameras.

President Ivan Duque rushed back to the capital with his top military advisers from a visit to a western state to oversee the police investigation into what he called a "miserable" attack.