BOGOTÁ, Colombia — A car bomb exploded in front of a police academy Thursday morning in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, killing at least eight people and wounding 23, the Defense Ministry said.
Images from the scene of the attack showed the remains of a large explosion which had blackened the streets, left buildings pockmarked with shrapnel and even blew the leaves off nearby trees and the tiles off rooftops. Police officers wandered the scene, dazed, looking for survivors.
“My solidarity is with our police officers faced with this terrorist act,” the mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa, said on his Twitter account.
Iván Duque, Colombia’s president, who had been away from the capital, called the bombing a “miserable terrorist act” and said that he was returning to direct the investigation. “All Colombians reject terrorism and are united to confront it,” he said on Twitter.
The car bombing rattled nerves in Bogotá, not only for the number of dead, but also for its significance: Such attacks were long the norm in the capital as drug traffickers and leftist guerrillas waged aggressive bombing terror campaigns in the city with car bombs.
But it has been years since there was an attack of this kind in Bogotá.
“May God bless our country and not allow that the dark period when violence reigned returns to our beloved Colombia,” said a Twitter user who identified himself as César Pachón.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. But local media outlets reported that authorities suspected involvement of the National Liberation Army, Colombia’s largest remaining guerrilla organization, which claimed responsibility in past attacks against Colombia’s security forces.
Last January, the group killed five police officers and wounded more than 40 in the port city of Barranquilla after bombing a police station. The group also kidnapped four soldiers, three police officers and two military contractors last year in a bid to pressure the government in to peace talks. The hostages were released, but the government refused to join the peace talks.