Two policemen killed in Bogota car explosion

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The Independent US

A parked car with a body inside blew up near Bogota yesterday, killing two police explosives experts. Two home-made mortar shells were later launched near the presidential palace in Bogota, but neither detonated.

A parked car with a body inside blew up near Bogota yesterday, killing two police explosives experts. Two home-made mortar shells were later launched near the presidential palace in Bogota, but neither detonated.

Two small bombs also exploded in a commercial district of the capital, injuring four people, including a six-year-old girl who was reported to be in a critical condition.

Just two blocks from the presidential palace, an explosion was heard in an alley. Police who investigated the report found a jeep that had been used as a platform to launch two mortar shells, according to a bomb squad member. The unexploded shells were found in parks and deactivated, he said. No one claimed responsibility for the attacks, but police blamed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

Worried parents rushed get their children out of a school near the palace. Nelson Cuervo, 35, said: "The thing that is so unfair is that all of us innocent people have to pay for the war that is happening here, especially the children."

The alarm was raised before dawn yesterday when police found a car abandoned on a rural road 25 miles south of Bogota, with a corpse and some bags inside. Fearing the bags contained explosives, the police did not touch the car or try to remove the unidentified body, and called the bomb squad. When two bomb squad officers tried to open a door, the car exploded, killing both policemen.

Four hours later, two bombs exploded in central Bogota, injuring four people. The bombs were concealed in drains beneath the street. The explosions flung up manhole covers and broke sections of concrete. Police found and safely detonated another small bomb in a manhole.

Farc has stepped up its attacks since peace talks collapsed on 20 February. Targets for bomb attacks have included bridges, electrical and communications towers and reservoirs. On Sunday, two bombs in Villavicencio, a provincial capital, killed 12 civilians and wounded 60.

Yesterday was the 54th anniversary of the assassination of the leftist presidential candidate Elicier Gaitan. The United States embassy advised Americans to "exercise caution" when travelling around Bogota.

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