Colombia investigates conflict after car bombs wounded 36 people at military base

The Ministry of Defense said that two men drove a Toyota truck into a military base in the city of Cúcuta on the border with Venezuela.

The Colombian government is investigating a car bomb explosion at a military base near the border between the country and Venezuela, injuring 36 people.

The Ministry of Defense said that there were two explosions on Tuesday at a base used by the 30th Army Brigade in the northeastern city of Cucuta, after two men drove a white Toyota truck into the scene after posing as officials.

Secretary of Defense Diego Molano (Diego Molano) said: “We reject and deny this despicable and terrorist attempt to attack Colombian soldiers, adding that three people were seriously injured.”

Morano told reporters that one of the wounded had undergone an operation and 29 others were hospitalized.

Officials blamed the attack on members of the country’s last recognized armed group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), but Morano said dissidents from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) may also be involved.

The FARC dissidents rejected the 2016 peace agreement, which ended the organization’s role in the Colombian armed conflict, which has caused 260,000 deaths and displaced millions. Colombian government officials and military said that there are still about 2,500 to 3,000 FARC dissidents across the country.

Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampiti reported in the capital Bogota that after the attack, Morano and President Ivan Duque flew to the area, which he called the biggest incident since 2019 one.

“We did see an escalation,” Rampietti said, explaining that armed groups have been fighting to control illegal crops such as coca and smuggling routes in the area, contributing to the recent increase in violence.

“There are other drug mafia activities in the area. In addition to coca, there are also gold mines in that area. [and] A very important smuggling route for people, money, drugs and weapons between Colombia and Venezuela,” he said.

U.S. Embassy in Bogota Say Late Tuesday, when the explosion occurred, a small number of U.S. military personnel were being trained by Colombian troops at the base, but no U.S. military personnel were reported to be seriously injured.

Colombian President Duque told reporters that his government will provide $135,000 in rewards to find those responsible for the Cúcuta bombing. He said that a special investigation team was also set up to investigate what happened.

On June 15, soldiers patrolled the military camp where a car bomb exploded in Cúcuta [Stringer/Reuters]

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) In a report in March, Colombia saw violence again in 2020, as at least five conflicts with armed groups are ongoing.

The organization stated that 389 people (mainly civilians) were killed by explosive devices last year, the highest number since 2016.

In the same month, the Colombian government The accused FARC dissident A car bomb was detonated in the town of Corinto, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Cali in western Colombia. More than two dozen people were injured in that incident, including some public officials.

In the first quarter of 2021, over 27,000 people were displaced across Colombia. The country’s human rights monitors April said, An increase of 177% compared with the same period last year.

The Ombudsman stated that people were forced to leave their homes during threats, murders, forced recruitment by armed groups, and conflicts between armed groups.

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