Protests at return of urban terror to Colombia

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The Independent US

An estimated 20,000 Colombians, wearing white T-shirts and waving small national flags, held a peace rally in Bogota's Simon Bolivar park yesterday in solidarity with the victims of a car bomb on Friday that killed 32 people.

An estimated 20,000 Colombians, wearing white T-shirts and waving small national flags, held a peace rally in Bogota's Simon Bolivar park yesterday in solidarity with the victims of a car bomb on Friday that killed 32 people.

They shouted peace slogans and sang songs while they waited for Cardinal Pedro Rubiano, the Archbishop of Bogota, to celebrate mass in the park. Outside the area where the mass was held, a man carried a banner calling for the death penalty for "guerrillas, kidnappers and terrorists''.

The Mayor of Bogota, Antanas Mockus, also attended the rally. No Mas ("No More") was written on thousands of white flags. The crowd marched through the city calling for an end to the violence that has plagued this Andean nation for more than 40 years.

Martha Lucia Arango, a doctor who was at the rally with her daughter, said: "We have come out of a feeling of sadness and impotence. It is all we can do to unite ourselves with the families who are burying loved ones today."

The last peace rally of this size was held more than two years ago when Francisco Santos, the Vice-President, called on Colombiansto unite against kidnapping and terrorism.

No one has claimed responsibility for Friday's bomb, the worst in Colombia for more than 10 years. But government sources were quick to blame the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), the country's biggest guerrilla army. It is thought that as much as 200kg (about 440lb) of explosives were used in the bomb, which went off at 8.10pm local time and destroyed most of the buildings in a busy residential and embassy zone.

In a message on their website, Farc rebels said they did not plant the bomb in the El Nogal social club, which has left 32 dead and more than 160 injured. They blamed far-right paramilitary groups.

The President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, has called on the international community to do more in its efforts to stop the drug trafficking that is fuelling the conflict.

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