Colombia suspends talks with rebels after bombings aimed at police
Posted January 28, 2018 1:30 p.m. EST
Updated January 29, 2018 5:49 p.m. EST
(CNN) — Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos suspended peace talks on Monday with a leftist militant group after two bomb attacks on police over the weekend.
A bombing targeted a police outpost in northern Colombia on Sunday, a police official said. Several people were injured from the blast in Soledad, a suburb of the coastal city of Barranquilla, a local police officer, who asked not to be identified, told CNN en Espanol.
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 attack came a day after another blast targeted a police station in Barranquilla, about 7 miles north of Soledad.
At least five Colombian police officers were killed and 42 others injured Saturday morning after a bomb was hurled at the station house, police said. The National Liberation Army, or ELN by its Spanish initials, on Sunday claimed responsibility for the bombing. The leftist militant group made its claim in a statement harshly criticizing the government and condemning "brutal repression of legitimate citizen protests."
The attacker, riding on a motorcycle, threw an explosive device at the station in the San Jose neighborhood as officers were preparing to start the workday, according to Colombian police.
The attorney general's office identified the attacker as Cristian Camilo Bellon Galindo, 31.
He is charged with five counts of aggravated homicide and 42 counts of attempted homicide. Terrorism- and explosives-related charges will be filed as well, authorities said.
"My patience and the patience of the Colombian people have their limits," Santos said on Monday. A fifth round of talks between the Colombian government and representatives of the ELN had been scheduled to take place in upcoming days in Ecuador.
Barranquilla Mayor Alejandro Char and metropolitan police Brig. Gen. Mariano de la Cruz Botero told reporters the attack appeared to be in retaliation for recent operations against local criminal organizations, according to the police department's Twitter account.
Police recovered a radio and notebook linked to the attack.
Metropolitan police posted photos on Twitter of four slain officers, who were identified as Anderson Cano, Fredy de Jesus Lopez, Yosimar Marquez and Freddys de Jesus Echeverria.
Later, also via Twitter, the department identified the fifth victim as patrolman Yamith José Rada Muñoz, saying he "joins the four dead heroes who lost their lives in the cowardly terrorist attack."
During a Saturday visit to Barranquilla, Santos said 1,500 additional officers will be dispatched to the city to support local police.
"Be assured that those responsible will face justice," Santos told reporters at a news conference. "Terrorism, like in this case, will not make anyone bow down."