Bogota bomb blast: death toll rises to 21

Bogota bomb blast: death toll rises to 21

The Colombian government has declared three days of mourning. Later, in a statement, he said he has ordered reinforcements to Colombia's borders and routes in and out of cities. In response, Colombia's High Peace Commissioner, Miguel Ceballos, said the ELN "was moving further and further away from the possibility of dialogue".

They reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to worldwide peace and security and stressed the need for all states to combat, by all means, threats to global peace and security caused by terrorist attacks.

The administration of Duque's predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos, launched talks with the ELN in February 2017 in a bid to reach a peace deal similar to one it finalized with the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group in 2016.

The last major attack was in January 2018 when the ELN, the biggest rebel group that remains active, detonated a bomb in the northern port city of Barranquilla, killing five police officers and injuring dozens.

He has insisted that negotiations can not be resumed unless the ELN unilaterally releases all of its abductees and stops all attacks.

The blast shattered windows and rattled the General Santander police academy early Thursday morning.

Botero said that at this stage of the investigation police had no evidence to suggest the attacker wanted to commit suicide, and may have meant to set off the bomb with "an electronic device".

The attack was planned over about 10 months, he said.

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There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack and Humberto Martinez said investigators were searching for its "intellectual authors". He asked family members to provide DNA sample to a team of forensic anthropologists trying to identify the dead from among a list of unaccounted-for cadets. Of the more than 70 wounded, including three students from Panama, 10 remain hospitalized.

But Martinez said top ELN commanders, who had been living in Cuba during the peace process and are believed to have only minimal control over their troops, would be held accountable for the attack.

Little is known about Rojas. He will be charged later Friday with terrorism and murder. The vehicle was last inspected six months ago in the eastern city of Arauca, near the border with Venezuela.

He called on Cuba to capture 10 National Liberation Army (ELN) commanders who are now in Havana for the stalled peace talks.

The ELN has been stepping up its attacks on police targets and oil infrastructure amid a stand-off with the conservative Duque government over stalled peace talks.

Rojas had worked as an explosives expert for the group and trained its members in the use of explosives in Venezuela, Botero said.

Vehicle bombs were frequently used in Colombia during decades of civil war between the government and various leftist rebel groups, as well as in violence involving the Medellin cartel led by the late drug lord Pablo Escobar.

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