A police station in Northern Colombia was bombed on Sunday, leaving at least five officers dead and dozens more injured, BBC reports.
The bomb was planted outside the station in Soledad, a suburb of Barranquilla, in the morning, while officers gathered inside to receive their morning assignments.
Five officers have been killed and more than 40 others faced minor injuries, while several others remain in the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Barranquilla Mayor Alejandro Char and metropolitan police Brig. Gen. Mariano de la Cruz Botero told reporters they believe that the attack came as retaliation for the recent crackdown on drug trafficking and organized crime, however, local media has been speculating that it was used as a distraction, due to an armored car being robbed nearby at the same time.
According to the attorney general’s office, a suspect has already been arrested. The Colombian newspaper El Tiempo says was the suspect was “found near the station with radio equipment and plans of the police station.”
“We will charge (him) with five aggravated murders … attempted murder, terrorism and use of explosives,” the attorney-general has stated.
Colombian police tweeted a photo of the targeted station, with a caption stating that they will not be lowering their guard in the face of the attack, and a 50 million pesos reward (17,625 USD) has been offered to anyone with information regarding the attackers.
Police later tweeted another photo of four of the officers killed as a result of the bombing, later tweeting the final photo which includes the fifth confirmed victim, patrolman Yamith José Rada Muñoz. The caption states he “joins the four dead heroes who lost their lives in the cowardly terrorist attack.”
This bombing comes only one day after an attacker, now identified as 31-year-old Cristian Camilo Bellon Galindo, threw explosives inside the San Jose police station, another suburb of Barranquilla, about seven miles from Soledad. Another five police officers were killed as a result of the attack. The National Liberation Army, a leftist military group, claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos called the attack “cowardly.” He also announced that another 1500 officers will be dispatched to work alongside local police.
“Be assured that those responsible will face justice,” Santos told reporters. “Terrorism, like in this case, will not make anyone bow down.”
This attack comes only weeks before Barranquilla’s annual carnival, one of Colombia’s biggest folkloric celebrations which dates back to the 19th century, and the second biggest carnival in South America, after the world-famous Rio.