Published: Tue, January 30, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

At least 5 police officers killed in Colombia bombing

At least 5 police officers killed in Colombia bombing

Colombia is the world's top producer of cocaine, and criminal groups have flooded the country's main cities with drugs in a move known as "microtrafficking".

The blast in Barranquilla, redolent of some of the worst violence at the apex of Colombia's drug violence three decades ago, took place shortly after 6:30 a.m. local time as officers were lining up in formation at the police station's patio following a shift change.

"We have no doubt that this is in retaliation against so many good blows that the police have landed not only on drug traffickers in Barranquilla, but also outside the city", Barranquilla Mayor Alejandro Char said. Police forces at the San Jose station, in southern Barranquilla, were attacked, ” said the group in a communique, the authenticity of which has not yet been verified. Authorities are offering an $18,000 reward for information on those responsible for the attack.

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Colombia's peace deal has emboldened new criminal groups that have proliferated since the rebels disarmed a year ago as part of a peace deal ending a half-century conflict. That led to the rebels' disarmament and transformation into a political party.

Several Colombian police investigators search for evidence outside the police station.

On Sunday, however, Barranquilla's police chief said he suspects ELN guerillas are behind the incidents, and later in the day the group issued a statement claiming responsibility for the first attack.

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"This cowardice and treacherous attack will not go unpunished", Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos told the country. The individual was found near the site of the bombing with radio equipment and plans of the police station. The powerful blast, which residents at first thought was an natural disaster, gutted a three-story police station in the border town of San Lorenzo and destroyed several adjacent homes.

The Metropolitan Police of Barranquilla tweeted a photo of the outpost with a caption vowing the department would not lower its guard in the face of the dawn attack. The Marxist rebel army turned over its weapons in June a year ago after signing a peace deal with the government in November 2016.

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